Goodie and Usera in London


Big Boy Goudie (l to r): Two samples from the Ciro's film, Goudie in Paris 1927, Goudie in Paris 1930.



Ramon Usera (l to r): From the Ciro's film, Usera in Paris 1930, Usera in New York 1934.

Previously, the information that Frank “Big Boy” Goudie did not go to England with Noble Sissle in 1930 has been spread, and also in Traveling Blues. New studies show that Goudie did go to England. Courtesy to Kim Altsund for pointing out the presence of Goudie in the Sissle film clip.

Without doubt, Frank “Big Boy” Goudie and Ramon Usera were present when the film clip from Ciro’s London was shot. Their presence has been established by comparison with contemporary photos.

Howard Rye, in Storyville 105, suggested that Frank Big Boy Goodie, usually displayed in discographies on the Sissle 1930 recording session, was dropped from the group before the London engagement.

However, Goudie is definitely present in the Ciro’s film clip, whereas Duquesne is not shown. Duquesne left Plymouth on 17 December for New York with the rest of the orchestra, as shown on the Passenger list on the New York arrival on 22 December. This passenger list shows 9 musicians traveling together – Sissle traveled in another class. Goudie is not on this passenger list and he probably returned to France and stayed there after the Ciro’s engagement.

Goudie had gone to Europe in 1925 and played with Sissle in Paris during the summer of 1930. He spent the war years in Brazil and returned to France in 1946, staying there until 1956. Therefore, the Sissle plans to go back to U.S.A. after the Ciro’s engagement was not appealing; he had grown accustomed to the European life. It is even possible that the Tommy Ladnier letter of October 9 to Roy Butler really concerned a replacement for Goudie, despite the fact that Tommy Ladnier was asking for a “good first saxophone player,” which normally would mean a first alto saxophonist.

The statements made by Howard Rye in Storyville 105 must therefore be re-evaluated. Rye’s statement that four men (Revey, Goudie, Spaulding, and Edwards) were dropped before the Ciro’s London engagement, as reported by the Afro American of 19 July 30, is certainly odd. This report was given five months before the engagement! From all available information, only three men were definitely dropped: Revey, Spaulding, and Edwards. And they were not dropped because they were not good musicians; the British demand was a one-to-one exchange of organized musicians.

Also reported by Rye is the information given in the December 1930 Melody Maker, stating that the band appearing at Ciro's had ten members. This could be true and according to the contract, but it certainly does not verify the identity of the saxophone players. It is therefore possible that Goudie and Duquesne both played at Ciro’s but not at the same time; this due to the stipulated size of the orchestra. Another scenario is that these men followed suite but we don’t know for certain in what order since the recording date for the film clip could be either before or after the gramophone recording date.


The conclusions made are thus:

•Big Boy Goudie did go to England in 1930 and played with Sissle at Ciro’s London

•Big Boy Goudie and Ramon Usera were present during the film shooting at Ciro’s London.

•Ralph Duquesne was not present during the film shooting at Ciro’s London.

•It cannot be concluded which saxophone players were present during the London recording session December 11 1930.

For more information on Frank Goudie, please read the excellent Frank Goudie biography by Dan Vernhettes. More information on that book under Books on this site.

There is also some information on the excellent site Jazz Rhythm at

The text and photos can be downloaded from the link shown below.