Sylvester Ahola (May 24, 19021995), a.k.a. Hooley, was a classic jazz trumpeter and cornetist born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He became most popular in England rather than the United States, and first began performing with Frank Ward and His Orchestra. In 1925 he started playing with Paul Specht and His Orchestra, with whom he did a two month long tour of England that following year. For the next couple of years he performed with bands like The California Ramblers and Adrian Rollini and his band.

In 1927 he moved to England and landed a job playing with the Savoy Orpheans and then gigged with Bert Firman and Bert Ambrose. The British Musicians' Union, unhappy to see a foreigner land so many jobs and attain so much success, effectively prohibited him from playing with anyone other than Bert Ambrose. This forced him to eventually leave in 1931 and return to New York City, where he never again achieved the level of success he had enjoyed during his time in England.

F. Besson Brevette trumpet purchased by Sylvester "Hooley" Ahola in 1930. Hooley bought this Besson when he was playing with the Ambrose Orchestra in England and used it on many of his recordings. The trumpet is wonderfully worn and has a small patch on the bell as Hooley was wearing through the brass. For the past year Hooley's Brevette was used in developing a model for the new line of S.E. Shires trumpets including the Doc Severinsen line. Doc loved this horn and his new trumpet has much in common with it.
I've left the markings done at the shop on the horn as another part it's wonderful history. These early French Bessons are rare and one with such a history even more so.

Here are some shots of Hooley's Boosey pocket cornet as shown in the article. It was given to him by the Ambrose Orchestra when he left for the States in 1931.

I've meet SCOTT PHILBRICK on ebay when he was selling the Al Cass's Ahola collection....

Scott Said:

Hooley and I were friends for many years and after his death I sold much of his musical items for his widow who needed  the money badly. There is a book on his life entitled "The Gloucester Gabriel" by  Dick Hill.

I work at the S.E. Shires Company were we make high end trombones and trumpets. The shop is in the next town over from Milford and Steve Cass has visited but I haven't met him. For some reason I never got to meet Al but Hooley spoke very highly of him and his talents.

Al Cass no inscription
trumpet mouthpiece ..... MX silver with 3 lines
This rare Cass mouthpiece was finding in an old trumpet case.

Al Cass Dizzy Gillespie  model trumpet mouthpiece in excellent original condition. This rare Cass mouthpiece was in a collection that belonged to trumpet great Sylvester Ahola who used and endorsed Al Cass mouthpieces. On the shank is written 28-12  Exact Diz Back. It's a raw Brass Mpc.


Al Cass Silver Without number.....another Al Cass that belonged to Hooley. It is one of Al's "screamer" models and has no numbers. The mouthpiece is in very nice shape with no shank wear.

 Al Cass 4S-28 Silver  trumpet mouthpiece made for the great Sylvester 'Hooley" Ahola, one of the top trumpet men of the twenties and thirties. This mouthpiece looks as though it was never used as the silver is 100% and the shank shows no signs of wear. Al Cass made all of Hooley's mouthpieces in the fifties and sixties and the 4S meant" for Sylvester" or may be just the 4 serie ! ! ! A rare al cass V cup mouthpiece....

Here's a rare Al Cass trumpet to alto horn mouthpiece model #43 that belonged to Sylvester Ahola, in unused condition with 100% silver and no shank wear. These Cass doubling mouthpieces are hard to find.


Né dans une famille d’origine finnoise, Sylvester Ahola commence à apprendre le cornet à l’âge de 6 ans. Sa carrière commence dans les années 20. On peut l’entendre dans les orchestres de Frank E. Ward (1924), Paul Specht (1926) , Peter Van Steeden (1927) et avec les « California Ramblers  ». On retrouve dans son style de trompette, au phrasé legato et au son assez « rond », l'influence de Bix Beiderbecke et Red Nichols.

En 1927, il part en tournée en Angleterre avec le groupe les « Savoy Orpheans ». Il s’installe à Londres où il est vite un trompettiste très demandé par les chefs d’orchestres de jazz ou de danse. Il enregistre abondamment avec divers formations (Jack Harris, John Firman, Ted Heath, Bert Ambrose,…).

En 1931, il est de retour aux États-Unis, après des brefs séjours chez Peter Van Steeden puis chez Ed Kirkebyn, il rejoint le «  staff orchestra  » de la NBC et travaille comme musicien de studio.

En 1940, il se retire à Gloucester où il continue de jouer occasionnellement dans des orchestres locaux.

The shots are of Hooley and Phil Wall (composer of Static Strut) around 1926.

Phil had a pilot's license and gave up music for flying.




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