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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Vess Ossman


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/380532

banjola1 - Posted - 01/14/2022:  14:53:27


How about a cylinder?



Banjo was melodic a long time ago.



Whistling Rufus by Vess Ossman - 1899



 


Edited by - Texasbanjo on 01/15/2022 08:21:23


Paul Roberts - Posted - 01/14/2022:  17:45:42


It's incredible that banjo music was ever that happy!



Great interview with you in Banjo Newsletter.

banjola1 - Posted - 01/14/2022:  18:29:29


quote:

Originally posted by Paul Roberts

It's incredible that banjo music was ever that happy!



Great interview with you in Banjo Newsletter.




120 years old and its joy still shines through.



 

Paul Roberts - Posted - 01/14/2022:  20:09:00


I like what you said about singing through your instrument.

Leslie R - Posted - 01/14/2022:  22:24:36


That’s a treasure.

I don’t know anything about the banjo he would have been playing, or the year this was recorded, but this gentleman was good.
Try to imagine how it must have sounded live.

Texasbanjo - Posted - 01/15/2022:  08:23:16


banjola1

I have moved your thread to Other Banjo Related. Sound off is for members to post and show off their tunes.

Ira Gitlin - Posted - 01/15/2022:  09:37:22


quote:

Originally posted by Leslie R

That’s a treasure.



I don’t know anything about the banjo he would have been playing, or the year this was recorded, but this gentleman was good.

Try to imagine how it must have sounded live.






It would have been an openback, with a skin head and gut strings. Some of our classic banjo colleagues on BHO like Joel Hooks or John Cohen could give more details, I bet.


Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 01/15/2022 09:37:39

Dan Gellert - Posted - 01/15/2022:  10:31:34


Here he is a few years later. This recording is much better made, preserved, and remastered, and IMO his playing is even more spirited! If someone asks what "classic" fingerstyle banjo is, I'd just play this side:



youtube.com/watch?v=SVRWpbfZI0M



 



and if you've ever actually heard or played a banjo that is set up as they were at that time, you'll realize how remarkably well that old recording captures the banjo's sound.


Edited by - Dan Gellert on 01/15/2022 10:36:57

banjola1 - Posted - 01/15/2022:  12:56:00


quote:

Originally posted by Texasbanjo

banjola1



I have moved your thread to Other Banjo Related. Sound off is for members to post and show off their tunes.






Sherry,



Sorry about that. I was up all night and hit the post button before I realized it.



Pat-

Texasbanjo - Posted - 01/15/2022:  14:05:44


quote:

Originally posted by banjola1

quote:

Originally posted by Texasbanjo

banjola1



I have moved your thread to Other Banjo Related. Sound off is for members to post and show off their tunes.






Sherry,



Sorry about that. I was up all night and hit the post button before I realized it.



Pat-






Not a problem, just wanted to let you know what happened to your thread and why. 

hbick2 - Posted - 01/15/2022:  15:27:49


I am attaching a photo of Ossman playing a Whyte Laydie No. 2 banjo. It is part of a portfolio of famous artists who played and endorsed Fairbanks banjos. I'm pretty sure I've seen photos of him playing a Whyte Laydie No. 7, too.

I've been listening to Ossman for many years. I've managed to accumulate a number of his cylinder and disc records. I read an interesting article about him many years ago. He said he used three fingers and his thumb. Regardless, I believe he was the greatest of the early banjo players. Fred Van Eps began playing banjo listening to Ossman cylinders.


The Old Timer - Posted - 01/15/2022:  17:24:52


I believe I recently read that Ossman's recordings of Maple Leaf Rag probably outsold the piano versions.

Dan Gellert - Posted - 01/19/2022:  08:30:50


quote:

Originally posted by The Old Timer

I believe I recently read that Ossman's recordings of Maple Leaf Rag probably outsold the piano versions.






I'm sure that was the case. I imagine there were recordings of the original piano settings of that and other classic ragtime pieces made at that time, but I can't recall ever hearing or even seeing any! 



Piano was difficult to record well on early acoustic equipment.  You'll hear a lot of piano accompaniment on those records, but few piano solos. I think that was because even then you could get "canned" piano music in high fidelity-- on a piano roll!



The banjo is one of the handful of instruments whose sound is particularly well suited to the limitations of acoustic recording.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 01/19/2022:  08:45:11


I'd say Ossman was certainly in line with the best recorded classic era banjoists. But there were several that would give him a good run for that title. I am partial to Fred Van Eps' precision but would argue that Ossman had more personality in his playing.



The only problem with these recordings, and it was a complaint that Ossman himself made, was there were no dynamics. It was ff all the time. Hearing later recordings (done on tape) of elderly classic era players shows the great dynamic range that they had.



Ossman's early recordings were likely made with a Stewart Thoroughbred. As noted he was also seen playing Vega banjos. During his last Vaudeville tour he was playing Orpheum banjos.



If one could believe his testimonials, it seems that he played just about every make of high quality banjo available at one time or another. He even had his own line of private label banjos.


Edited by - Joel Hooks on 01/19/2022 08:45:34

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