Welcome, Visitor Number

10 January 2017


I have written before about the pleasure I had in meeting that fine cornet player David Jellema in New Orleans one evening in October 2016. At the time, he was playing a cornet manufactured in 1893! It is the cornet you see in the photo above. The manufacturer was the English Besson Company. The model is a 'Prototype' and its serial number 48XXX. When it was made, the Besson Company operated from 198 Euston Road in London; and the instruments were distributed in the United States by Carl Fischer in New York. David bought this instrument from an antique shop in Annapolis, Maryland, which is where the US Naval Academy is. So he surmises that it might long ago have been played by someone in the Navy band there.

But David also has other remarkable cornets. He owns a Conn Wonder, manufactured in 1891. He tells me this is also in pristine condition! And David has two Conn Victors, dating from 1929 and 1934. The 1929 is immaculate, with original case, tools, slide grease, lyre, and even the original care instructions (and the serial number stamped on it!).

The 1934 model was owned by David years ago. He sold it - but bought it back in about 2013. 

'But,' said David, 'my main horn is a 1965 Getzen Eterna, medium bore, originally bought and owned by Chicago's Jazz Limited trumpet player, Don Ingle (a son of Red Ingle; took lessons from Red Nichols). It was sold to the Bixian cornetist Tom Pletcher in about 1971 or 1972 so he could play it in the bands The Jackpine Savages and The Sons of Bix. When he decided to switch to a large bore, Pletcher sold it to me in 1992. I have many recordings and pictures of Pletcher playing this horn. In fact it was hearing Tom (son of trumpeter Stewart "Stu" or "Stew" Pletcher) live that turned me on to playing this music. (I had heard Bix Beiderbecke's Since My Best Gal only the summer before.) Manufactured shortly after I was born, it was originally bought at Getzen a day before Doc Severinson bought one as well.'

There are plenty of YouTube videos in which you can hear David performing. I think his cornet-playing is particularly tasteful in this one: