I have recently found an interview with David Grisman (Live on the Jake Feinberg Show) where he talked about the recording of the Bluegrass Album with Red Allen and Frank Wakefield in 1964. He later talks about his projects with Jerry Garcia.
This interview inspired me to look back to the early 1960s and how Bluegrass was like then.
The album was produced for Smithsonian Folkways Records. Grisman (born in 1945) was just 19 years old when he produced this record. Wakefield had a great influence to Grisman who says the he learned alle tha mandolin solos a played by Frank Wakefield.
Allen and Wakefield’s music ranges from strictly traditional songs like “Little Maggie” to pieces introduced by Bill Monroe to sacred material, all with their hallmark close harmonies and tight instrumental backing. Like Monroe and Roscoe Holcomb, Allen’s voice embodies the “high lonesome” sound.
Grisman had invited Red Allen and Frank Wakefield to play a concert at the Carnegie Hall before.
Bluegrass (1964) – Red Allen und Frank Wakefield
David Grisman especially was inspired by a song from the album “Mountain Music Bluegrass Style” – The White House Blues by Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys. They had to drive to New York to buy records like this. He says abou when he listened to this song for the very first time: “That changed my life”
Ernesto Becucci (1845 – 1905) was a popular and succesful Italian composer during the second half of the 19th century. Especially his composition “Tesoro Mio” has been successful all over the world.
His compositions have also been arranged for mandolin and mandolin orchestra. In the monthly reports about published music (Hofmeisters Monatsberichte) from 1906 I have found a note about the composition “Erhaschte Küsse Op. 294” in a version for mandolin solo or with piano or guitar accompaniment:
The composition “Che Ridere!” played by the mandolin ensemble “Mutinae Plectri” can be seen in the following video:
I have also found a historical recording with Troise and his Mandoliers (Selecta Plectrum Orchestra), a recording of “Che ridere” by the Ensemble Ansamblul “ANIMO” from Moldavia and another version of “Tesoro Mio” with mandolins, mandocello and guitar (sheet music for this arrangement can be found in the Mandolin Cafe forum – see below).
There are many other versions with piano, accordion, carouselorgan or with bigger orchestras.
I have compiled compositions by Ernesto Becucci in the following playlist – enjoy the music by Ernesto Becucci!
This is a well-known Italian waltz, originally written in 1895 for piano and adapted to many other settings over the following century. The original piano score is at IMSLP and there are many recordings, old and new, on Youtube. Pasquale Troise recorded it at one of his very first Decca sessions around 1929/30 (Link) with his Selecta Plectrum Mandoline Orchestra, shortly to be renamed “Troise & His Mandoliers”.
Becucci was a popular composer of the day and this is his best-known tune. He was a contemporary of Carlo Munier in Florence, and Munier dedicated his Duettino I to Becucci.
My recording is based on an arrangement for two mandolins and guitar published around 1910/20 by A. Paolilli’s Music Co., Providence R.I., and uploaded by Sheri in her Dropbox thread. I have recorded the original mandolin parts on vintage Italian bowlback mandolins, and have added a mandocello bass line to the guitar rhythm.
You can also find a number of free sheet music downloads for piano in the French National Library bnf:
Pasquale Troise (1895 – 1957) was born in Naples in 1895. He came to Great Britan during the 1920, first as a member of the London Radio Dance Band, but soon founded his own orchestra, the Selecta Plectrum Mandoline Orchestra, which was later renamed to Troise and his Mandoliers. When the banjo became more popular than the mandolin (mainly because it was louder) the orchestra replaced the mandolins by banjos and played as Troise and his Banjoliers. The orchestra existed from the 1930s until 1957 directed by Troise, and continued until the early 1970s then conducted by Jack Mandel.
The orchestra did regularly appear in a radio broadcast named “Music while you work”. The history of Troise and his Mandoliers can be found on the website Masters of Melody. There you can also listen to two complete recordings of the broadcasts from 1956 and 1964. It is also interesting to read that some important classical mandolin players including Hugo d’Alton played with Troise and his Mandoliers.
Their personnel changed very little over the years — classical mandoline player Hugo D’Alton, Billy Bell and Terry Walsh were all there to ensure stability, with accordionist Emile Charlier or Albert Delroy and pianists such as William Davies and Sidney Davey.
Many recordings and also movies (filmed by British Pathe between 1932 and 1940 ) with Troise and his Mandoliers are also available at youtube, I have compiled everything that I have found in the following playlist:
Palumbo was a specialist of various fretted instruments, and his advertisements in the trade journal B.M.G. shows that he taught guitar as well as banjo, mandolin and violin playing. He himself also played several of these instruments as a member of “Troise and his Mandoliers”, a band led by fellow Italian immigrant Pasqual Troise (1895–1957). This band recorded frequently and also made regular radio appearances.
The Wikipedia article contains a link to a PDF version of an interesting article about Angy Palumbo by the B. M. G.
During the 40’s and early 50s Mr. Sheaff’s main occupation was composing and arranging for professional fretted instrument bands; in particular, Troise and His Mandoliers (and Banjoliers), the Troise Novelty Orchestra, the Serenaders, etc.
Recently I have discovered two videos with historical recordings from a 78 record by the group Bonetti Brothers Melody Makers with mandolin.
The Mandolin Serenade has been composed by Dario C. Bonetti. I have found some information about Dario C. Bonetti in the archive of the University of Iowa Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century. Chautauquas were very popular until the end of the 1920s when the movie business changed the situation and Chautauquas became less popular.
The flyer about Dario C. Bonetti stems from a later time, after World War II. Here are two quotes from this flyer:
Dario C. Bonetti, who was one (of) Italians formost plectrum guitarists, ranks with the world’s great guitarists. He now is an American citizen and will make his first American concert tour with a special electric guitar under Redpath management.
Dario Bonetti was a seargeant-musician in World War II and entertained in Europe with Joshua Logan, Mickey Rooney, Bobby Breen, Red Buttons and Eugene List.
I have not found other information about the Bonetti Brothers or about the mandolin which has been used on the recording. I have found some information about the history of the Okeh label, and for me it looks like this record has been made around 1945.
This is my playlist with the two pieces:
Mandolin Serenade (Dario C. Bonetti) + Love Melody (V. Cesarino)