Thomas W. Jacobsen      New Orleans Notes









On a Norwegian fjord near Stavanger, with New Orleanians Lars Edegran and his band

Bio

Thomas W. Jacobsen (aka Thomas, Tom, or T. W.) was born, raised and educated in Minnesota. He eventually received a Ph. D. in classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Until retirement, Jacobsen spent his career in higher education, including 26 years on the faculty of Indiana University (Bloomington). He devoted his scholarly efforts to the study of prehistoric archaeology in Greece and the Aegean Basin. To that end, he worked in Greece for some 35 years, including 25 years as director of the excavations at the important site of Franchthi Cave. He also served as general editor of the multi-volume series Excavations at Franchthi Cave, Greece, published by the Indiana University Press. During his time in Greece, he wrote the first article in English on jazz in Greece (1987).

Jacobsen has been devoted to jazz music since he was a clarinet- and saxophone-playing teenager. It was at that time that he was introduced to New Orleans jazz by listening to the broadcasts of the New Orleans Jazz Club over the powerful Crescent City radio station WWL.

Upon retirement, Jacobsen moved to New Orleans where he has lived for more than 20 years--during which time he has become deeply involved in the local music scene. He has published extensively on New Orleans jazz, having served as a columnist and New Orleans correspondent for the well-known traditional jazz and ragtime monthly The Mississippi Rag. He also served for more than a decade on the editorial staff and was a columnist and feature writer for The Clarinet magazine as well as contributing to a variety of other jazz periodicals. He is the author of Traditional New Orleans Jazz, Conversations with the Men Who Make the Music, LSU Press, 2011.

Jacobsen and his wife Sharyn moved to St. Louis in September, 2014--to be near their their two youngest grandchildren.

Welcome

The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970–2000

A Personal Retrospective

THOMAS W. JACOBSEN

Lovers of New Orleans music tend to cleave into two groups: those who love the golden era of Satchmo, Jelly Roll, and Bechet (and their revivalists), and those who love the post-World War II world of R&B, funk, and modern jazz. Tom Jacobsen is one of the enlightened fans who loves it all, and he covers the pan-stylistic contemporary New Orleans scene splendidly in this book.--TOM McDERMOTT, New Orleans pianist and composer

Thomas Jacobsen knows and loves all of jazz and writes about it with wit and enthusiasm. But he has also written an exhaustive history of the players and venues in his adopted home, New Orleans. This is a thoroughly researched, generously illustrated reference book and, at the same time, it is delight to read.--KRIN GABBARD, author of Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture

In 1966, journalist Charles Suhor wrote that New Orleans jazz was "ready for its new Golden Age." Thomas W. Jacobsen’s The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970–2000 chronicles the resurgence of jazz music in the Crescent City in the years following Suhor’s prophetic claim. Jacobsen, a New Orleans resident and longtime jazz aficionado, offers a wide-ranging history of the New Orleans jazz renaissance in the last three decades of the twentieth century, weaving local musical developments into the larger context of the national jazz scene.

Jacobsen vividly evokes the changing face of the New Orleans jazz world at the close of the twentieth century. Drawing from an array of personal experiences and his own exhaustive research, he discusses leading musicians and bands, both traditionalists and modernists, as well as major performance venues and festivals. The city’s musical infrastructure does not go overlooked, as Jacobsen delves into New Orleans’s music business, its jazz media, and the evolution of jazz education at public schools and universities. With a trove of more than seventy photographs of key players and performances, The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970–2000 offers a vibrant and fascinating portrait of the musical genre that defines New Orleans.

OCTOBER 2014
208 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, 75 halftones
978-0-8071-5698-8
Paper $25.00, ebook available
LSU Press Paperback Original
Music Studies / Louisiana Studies

BOOK REVIEWS

--Paige van Vorst, Jazzology, winter, 2014, p. 12: "....The book is basically organized by decades--there is a prologue covering the 60s, and major chapters devoted to the 70s, 80s and 90s. Each chapter is similarly organized... Jacobsen takes a very even-handed approach, praising those who work behind the scenes to keep things moving, only occasionally expressing frustration over the way things work in New Orleans. His one chief criticism is of the independent fiefdoms that seldom cooperate. The general impression, though, is positive improvement overall... I've been interested in New Orleans and its music my whole life but haven't been there in a long time--this is a tremendous report on what went on during the period covered... A very interesting read and one that should be followed up with a sequel covering the early 21st Century."

--Charles Suhor, Dixieland Jazz Mailing List (online), December 11: "If you haven't yet bought Thomas Jacobsen's new book, 'The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970-2000: A Personal Retrospective' (LSU Press), I highly recommend it...You'll recognize dozens of the OKOM and modern players and landmark clubs and events in the book. A lot of the material was new to me because I left the city in 1977, keeping sporadic contact with the music scene through my brother Don, periodicals, and internet sources. I hope someone is waiting in the wings with notes for a 2000-and-beyond book." [NB. That's precisely what I am working on now!]

--Bob Porter, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors Journal, December, 2014: "As someone who was a frequent visitor to New Orleans during the period, I recognize the scene and Jacobsen does a fine job of getting it all out there. Lots of photos."

--W. Royal Stokes, Jazz Journalists Association NEWS (roundup of jazz and blues books from 2014), December 29, 2014: " Thomas Jacobsen's [book] not only renders the musical scene of the period covered in its varietal forms, it renders it as part of a broad canvas that includes essential information on its players, both musicians and support network; the venues that have come and gone, some still active today; the political scene; the journalism and radio outlets that have reviewed and supported the jazz idiom over the years; jazz education, both public school and university; and a number of other facets and circumstances. All of these categories are fleshed out with interesting material on the individuals involved. Jacobsen...has made use of his time there by constant presence on the jazz scene and involvement in its community, collecting his impressions and recording his data whenever he came into contact with that community...His outlook and taste are definitely catholic and his coverage comprehensive. All styles played in the city are given their due in this essential book. Photographs, notes, bibliography, index."

--David Kunian, OffBeat, February, 2015: "Thomas Jacobsen is well qualified to assess New Orleans jazz in the last third of the last century. His latest book is a short survey of jazz in the Crescent City divided up by decade. Each chapter is divided up to sections on live music clubs, festivals, education, brass bands and musical luminaries...an informative...means of providing information. Where he excels is the recalling of some histories that have been glossed over such as the early, controversial history of Jazz Fest, the lack of development of Rampart Street, or the saga of Clarence "Buckwater" Washington. He also gives recognition to some of the unsung pieces and people of the New Orleans music puzzle... This is a great reference book..."

--Charles Suhor, American Book Review (Jan.-Feb. 2015) [excerpted]:
"I've long been an admirer of Thomas Jacobsen's writing, the catholicity of his musical tastes, and his warm personal regard for New Orleans musicians. The last was evident in his 2011 work for LSU Press, Traditional New Orleans Jazz: Conversations with the Men Who Make the Music, and his articles for Mississippi Rag and Clarinet. His new volume is a follow-up to my 2001 book, Jazz in New Orleans: The Postwar Years to 1970.... When Jacobsen spoke to me casually about his plans for the book, I frankly wondered how he could get a handle on the task...Jacobsen ably ferrets out and explains the dominant patterns and underlying currents, making it look easy through organizational skill and a readable style... Jacobsen's framework of major events, issues, and evolving trends rescues the book from being a mere catalogue of names and places. Readers who aren't already familiar with the city's innumerable artists and clubs--after all, only Preservation Hall, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Harry Connick, Jr., and the Marsalis family are household names--will find many new names embedded in interpretive contexts... A recurring theme also lends continuity to Jacobsen's narrative--generational factors in the development of New Orleans jazz. The segments touch on many jazz styles and are fraught with irony.
It would be easy to quibble over minor points.... Jacobsen had the thronier task of deciding which musicians night clubs, recording sessions, and events to include from the thirty-year time span. Clearly, he provides an extensive and intensive view of the 1970-2000 jazz scene. The subtitle is "A Personal Retrospective," but Jacobsen's scholarship and fairminded coverage of all jazz style make the book an important report on a slimly researched period in the city's jazz history." [THIS REVIEW ALSO APPEARED IN ITS ENTIRETY IN allaboutjazz.com, May 12.]

I will add more as they become available.

_______________________________________________________


The opening welcome that had been in this location for some time must have become extremely tedious to see for those of you who are repeat offenders at the site. I will simply say that I am pleased with the visitations to the site, now well into the thousands and from all over the U.S. and about 35 foreign countries on all continents populated by humans. Thanks for your support, and do continue to check us out. I will continue to update all the pages on a regular basis, but it is possible that the latest news may not always appear at the top of the page.

And forgive me. I will continue to make note of my book Traditional New Orleans Jazz... since it is officially just three years old (as of March, 2014). I am also very happy to report that all of the reviews so far have been positive. (In addition to the U. S., they come from media in Canada and a variety of European countries. See the Works page for a list of review citations.) The book can be purchased from many sources, as well as directly from the LSU Press (see link to the right). It is also available from this website for $17.50 plus postage (check or money order). Just hit the contact button to order.

WEBMASTER'S CORNER
You will see that I editorialize/​personalize here more than on other pages. See also the News (updated regularly) and Comings and Goings (updated as needed) pages, and, of course, the Works page keeps you abreast of some of my publications.

May 21
The Irvin Mayfield NOPL Scandal has become even more scandalous. Mayfield still has not spoken publicly about the accusations against him, but he has cancelled all of his upcoming engagements for the week. Beyond that, The New Orleans Agenda reported today that he "has not responded to multiple email and in-person requests for interviews from WWL-TV [who originally broke the story]. But the station did interview Mayfield's predecessor as Library Foundation president, Craig Mitchell, who said tht on several occasions, he had to block Mayfield from using his position on the Library Foundation to collect extra money for himself." Rafael Goyeneche, head of the watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, said Mayfield's activities show a pattern. "These documents seem to indicate that for Mr. Mayfield, public service comes at a price. A pretty steep price," Goyeneche said.

Beyond that, the Weekly Beat conducted a poll of its readers last week asking what, in their opinion, Mayfield needs to do to ameliorate that debacle. The responses range among: l) he should cut all ties with the NOPL or 2) pay back all the money given to the NOJO or 3) apologize publicly (among others) OR 4) all of the above (47.6%). Obviously, the public is displeased with him.

I have to say that I have had occasion to work closely with Irvin over the years, most notably in interviewing him in 1996 and preparing that interview for publication in my book in 2011. In the many interviews that I have done with musicians, he is the ONLY ONE who asked to see what I wrote before it was published. Moreover, he suggested alterations in my text to make him look better!
I grudgingly agreed to them. The bottom line: While Irvin Mayfield is a bright and talented individual, he has a super ego. As has been observed by others, he rarely does anything unless it shows him in a good light. It makes me, for one, dubious about the people with whom he works. We must take all of this into consideration as we evaluate his career in the future.

May 18
How many of you have seen the recent award-winning film Whiplash? I saw it a couple of months ago and, while finding it somewhat fascinating, found it quite disgusting. What it did do, however, was lead me to reflect on my own methods as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students (not in music, of course, but that is irrelevant). My personal philosophy about teaching was developed in or shortly after completing my graduate education (I had no courses in pedagogy), when I was about to embark on a career in higher education. I believed--and still do--that those courses in which I learned most were taught by strict professors with high academic standards and who did not tolerate anything but the best effort from their students. Accordingly, that is the practice I followed in my own teaching. I did not abide lazy students and tried to eliminate them from classes as early as possible. Strict grading helped in that respect. My professors were not abusive or sadistic, as was the protagonist in the film, and I was not--in word or deed--either. 'Nuf said about me, at least for now.

I bring all of this up now because the current (April-May) issue of Jazz ed magazine devotes a good bit of space to the movie, an interview with its protagonist Oscar winner J. K. Simmons and a survey of the magazine's readership (mostly professional jazz educators). I do not have the time or inclination to re-cover that portion of the magazine entirely, but I will say that perhaps a more balanced view of the film emerged than I would have expected. While 70% of the many respondents thought that the movie had a negative impact on jazz education, nearly the same number (63.7%) conceded that the movie "increased awareness of jazz scholarhip, with most (grudgingly, perhaps) acknowledging that this is a good thing." And even some 40% said they "saw elements of the fictional character [in the film] within themselves and their own teaching styles. (That made me think of my old clarinet teacher, a real strict and narrow-minded disciplinarian.)

In short, some positives to take away from the movie--apart from the music and excellent acting--are: it brings attention to jazz music (something that we all know is seldom enough covered in the media these days) and, as one Brit observer noted, "The film might be over-the-top, but I do think there's something to be said for pushing people and not mollycoddling them." I agree, and it certainly holds for any discipline, not just music. As J.K. Simmons, a student of music himself, said, "...that element of Terence Fletcher's philosophy [aiming for technical perfection] I completely agree with. I just think you can accomplish that without human collateral damage."



May 16
I have been holding off commenting on the following until some semblance of resolution had been reached. For the most part, that has now happened. The situation about which I am now writing is the so-called "scandal" with regard to the misappropriation of funds of the New Orleans Public Library.

Very briefly, the problem arose when an investigative journalist discovered that nearly $900,000 had been transferred from the NOPL Foundation to the new New Orleans Jazz Market in Central City. As everyone knows, Irvin Mayfield and Ron Markham were behind the creation of the Jazz Market--and both also serve on the board of the NOPL Foundation (Markham was the president) and apparently approved of the transfer of funds. Fingers were immediately pointed at them.

The upshot came when Markham resigned and a new president was appointed. Mayor Landrieu then stepped in and ordered that all funds not used for library purposes be returned. While that will happen it seems, some problems remain--at least for me. For one, neither Markham nor Mayfield has issued an apology or an explanation of the transfer. In addition, it seems reasonable to expect a thorough housecleaning of the NOPL's board be made and some rules be established regarding its future behavior. Markham has obfuscated in his only public statement, and Mayfield has yet to say a word. That's bad form, in my view. For more, see NOLA.com, WWL.com and the OffBeat.

May 15
It's time for another new CD. This one is LINES OF COLOR: Gil Evans Project Live at Jazz Standard, a big-band recording made live at NYC's Jazz Standard just one year ago. It is part of a project by producer-bandleader Ryan Truesdell, who is one of the country's leading scholars on the music of the legendary Gil Evans.

The 11 tracks are divided up into the work of Evans from the 1940s (when he was the arranger for the great Claude Thornhill band), 1950s and the 1960s. Trad jazz lovers will be surprised to hear Evans' 1959 adaptation of Bix's "Davenport Blues" featuring the trumpet of Mat Jodrell. Quite remarkable when heard today. Other highlights are the lovely ballad "Can't We Talk it Over" from the Thornhill period in the late '40s and the very swinging last track, "How High the Moon."

Many outstanding sidemen are to be heard here, including saxophonists Steve Wilson, Donny McCaslin, and Scott Robinson; guitarist James Chirillo; pianist Frank Kimbrough and drummer Lewis Nash. There are two--I have to say, rather mediocre--vocals by Wendy Gilles.

This is a well-rehearsed and outstanding big band performance. The CD is on the Blue Note/​Artists Share label.

May 12
I'm happy to bring to your attention another fine new CD that has recently come across my desk. It's called Introducing Katie Thiroux, a swinging debut by a young lady bassist who also sings!

A recent graduate of the prestigious Berklee School of Music (she also teaches for them), Ms. Thiroux was discovered by the bass giant John Clayton, who has this to say about her, "...her playing is something else--it's at another level. I'm talking about the level of playing that allows the groove to feel right, the arrangements well thought out and rehearsed and the performances to be tight."

Katie's singing is also right in the groove. Here she presents eight jazz standards plus three of her own originals. I was particularly taken with the opening track, the old Rogers and Hart "There's a Small Hotel," on which she reveals herself as definitely my kind of "girl" singer, reminding me a bit of Diana Krall.

Thiroux is joined by a talented trio of Roger Neumann, tenor sax; Graham Dechter, guitar; and Matt Vitek, drums. She's not Esperanza Spalding, but she is of comparable talent. This group is a winner.

May 9
Mayor Landrieu has declared Monday, May 11 to be Travis "Trumpet Black" Day in New Orleans. Hill, 28, passed away on May 4. (See Obits page.) To celebrate the life and legacy of Hill, the Hill and Andrews families will host "Trumpet Black Fest" at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar in Treme. More than 20 bands and bandleaders have volunteered their services for the occasion. They include Trombone Shorty, James and Glen David Andrews, Kid Merv Campbell, Corey Henry, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, the Rebirth Brass Band, the Hot 8 Brass Band, the New Breed Brass Band, and many others. There will be second-line parades as well.

May 6
Despite the rainy first weekend, Jazz Fest attendance this year surpassed that of last year and achieved the highest total (460,000) since Katrina. The overall record of ca. 650,000 (2001) remains in tact.

Next year the festival will be as early as it's ever been: April 22-May 1.

May 5
I have just received a copy of another review--extremely detailed--by the noted jazz historian Charles Suhor in the prestigious American Book Review (January-February issue). Given its length, I have chosen to include only excerpts from it. See above.

May 4
I have listened to Ravel's Bolero hundreds, if not thousands, of times, but yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing it live for the first time. It was performed by the St. Louis Symphony (one of the top orchestras in the country) along with works by other 19th century composers (Bizet, Debussy). A wonderful program, but it was Bolero (for me, probably the most emotional piece of music ever composed) that was the absolute highlight. The StLS played it beautifully, maybe the best I've ever heard. It was reading about Bix's reaction to hearing it that first turned me on the piece in high school, and I have to say that it still turns me on every time I hear it.

April 27
Clarinetist Evan Christopher will be opening a series of three nightly performances tonight at Luthjen's Dance Hall in Marigny. He will be joined by pianist Joe Ashlar this evening. Tomorrow he will be working with pianist David Torkanowsky and Wednesday he will be playing with a trio that includes guitarist Brian Seeger and bassist Roland Guerin. It should be exciting---not to mention the fact that all three performances will be recorded live! Clearly something that many of us will be looking forward to hearing.

April 24
OffBeat's Jazz Fest Bible is out, and today marks the beginning of Jazz Fest 2015! I gather that the weather for the first weekend is not so promising. So, let's hope that this year's fest is more successful than French Quarter Festival. (See the News page.)

April 22
It is an historic day in New Orleans today. That is because last night at 12:01 am the new smoking ban in bars went into effect. Hence, from now on, all bars in the city--with or without music--will be smoke free! I never thought I'd see it happen.

April 19
A new (to me) recording by New Orleans musicians has just now come across my desk. It was recorded in the spring of last year and only now released. The CD--IN for the OUT is by group that has been around for some time called Plunge. Maybe you've heard (or heard of) them. I hadn't.

In any case, you will know the names of many of the musicians: trombonist and leader Mark McGrain, organist Robert Walter, percussionist Simon Lott, saxophonist Tom Fitzpatrick, saxophonist Tim Green, bassist James Singleton, and sousaphonist Kirk Joseph. McGrain's brother Tim and Green died last year (they were in their 50s and left us far too soon), as you may know. The album is dedicated to them, and its release and the 20th anniversary of Plunge will be celebrated this coming Wednesday (April 22) at Chicky Wah Wah on Canal Street in Mid-City. That's probably why I received the recording just now.

These are some of the most forward-leaning musicians in New Orleans. I would characterize their music as a fusion of free jazz and funk, which is not all that uncommon in the city these days. It is all original and the work of McGrain (who is also an audio engineer) and is presented in a polyphonic/​collective improvisational style. Joseph's sousaphone provides a sturdy backbone for most of the music and clearly gives it the funky, neo-brass band sound that is so popular in the Crescent City today. There are some very pleasing moments--particularly some melodic passages by the trombonist--but, for the most part, I found the style rather too outside for my taste. You may find it more appealing, however. Check it out.

On another front, pianist/​bandleader Matt Lemmler has been named a "Steinway Artist" and celebrated the honor with performances at Esplanade Studios this afternoon at 3 and 5 pm. Special guests included saxophonist Rick Margitza, guitarist Steve Masakowski and his illustrious kids vocalist Sasha and bassist Martin. The performances were recorded for two CDs to become available in the future. For more about "Matt Lemmler Live at the Esplanade Studios," contact Emily McWilliams at emilym@​hallpiano.com.

April 17
Congratulations to clarinetist and educator Michael White for being honored by the New Orleans chapter of the Jazz Journalists' Association as "2015 Jazz Hero." The award will be presented to Dr. White by the JJA at Cafe Istanbul at 6 pm on April 22. Held in collaboration with grassroots efforts in 21 U.S. cities and Toronto, Canada, the Jazz Hero Awards are announced and presented each year during the national Jazz Appreciation Month, which culminates in International Jazz Day on April 30. To learn more about International Jazz Day, check out jazzday.com.

[Incidentally, I'm still a member of JJA but obviously no longer a member of the NOLA chapter. Unfortunately, St. Louis does not have a local chapter.]

April 11
Well, the French Quarter Festival is well underway. Reports, however, are that the weather is not totally hospitable this weekend. Too bad.

But moving right along...

Many CDs come across my desk from various sources. I can't mention them all here, unfortunately. But one of the most recent ones (released in January) is by a group known as Five Plus Six, an 11-piece big-ish band out of Knoxville, TN. Led by arranger-trumpeter Vance Thompson, founder of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, the group's new CD is called Such Sweet Thunder.

As the title implies, Ellington-Strayhorn compositions are featured here. But no less than those of Monk. And there's even a Dolly Parton number ("Little Sparrow") along with a traditional Appalachian folk song! A nice and interesting mix.

The group is a tight aggregation with competent musicians and interesting arrangements of the nine tunes (including 3 Monks, 4 Ellingtonia). The soloists were, on the whole, good. It's nice music with a straight-ahead appeal to old dudes like me. Check it out, if you get a chance.

April 1
This is not an April Fool's joke! I just read in the Darmstadt Jazz Institute's newsletter that a long lost recording has been found. The recording? Elvis Sings Monk, on the prestigious Blue Note label (BN 1553)! A few notes from the British report of the find:

"Grasping tunes that had all but defeated many of the great horn players, Elvis quickly mastered Monk’s quirky melodies with ease, vocalising wordlessly the melodic twists and turns of tunes such as Epistrophy and Straight, No Chaser, even finding opportunities to curling his lip and synchronise his novel hip-swivelling technique at crucial points in the tunes. Recorded by master engineer Rudy Van Gelder, the tapes of the Elvis Sessions were mastered, and a first pressing run delivered to Alfred Lion [head of Blue Note]. Ever cautious, Lion concluded that the young and relatively unknown singer Elvis was too great a risk, unlikely to ever achieve commercial recognition, and decided to discontinue the project.

The tapes of the Elvis Sessions remained in the Blue Note vaults undiscovered over five decades, even overlooked by Blue Note archivist Michael Cuscuna, who mistakenly concluded the description on the tape box was a practical joke. The existence of the first pressing run of Elvis Sings Monk has only just come to light.

Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 1553 Van Gelder, mono, deep groove, no INC or Registered Trademark below E of “Note”

A crate of original mint sealed copies of BN1553 was recently discovered by the US Postal Service’s Misdirected and Lost Internal Freight Service (US-MILFS) who , as a public service, alerted Blue Note collectors of the existence of the find through internet on-line journalists and blogs."

It would be kind of fun to hear these recordings. If you want to pursue it, I would suggest writing Blue Note records. Given his rock background, the current president of the label, Don Was, may even consider a re-issue... (See photos page.)


March 31
It's been a while...for which I apologize. I have been working on Chapter Six ("Jazz Education in New Orleans") of my sequel to the current book (tentatively, "The New Orleans Jazz Scene in the Twenty-First Century") and just completed the preliminary draft. I press on...

Incidentally, my review of the Nick Sanders Trio's latest CD, "You Are a Creature," just appeared in the April issue of OffBeat. You can read it on the Works page.

March 19
My birthday yesterday (#80), and it was great to have the kids and grandkids with us over the past weekend. A particularly pleasant birthday wish from John Hasse of the Smithsonian via Facebook yesterday. It included a video of famed jazz harmonica player Toots Thielmans, a personal favorite, playing "Happy Birthday." It made my day!

A few notices worthy of attention: The ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market, 1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, will be on Thursday, April 2. This is something that Irvin Mayfield and others have been working for several years. It promises to be a splendid new jazz venue in the city. The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra's annual "Big Beat Gala" will take place the following evening (by subscription only) featuring NOJO and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Then, the first public, ticketed concert at the PHNOJM will be on Saturday, April 25 with Mayfield and NOJO providing the music. Wish I could be there...

March 12
It's that time of year again. Super Sunday, always the last Sunday before St. Patty's Day, will take place this coming Sunday (3/​15). The Indians will be out in force, always a very colorful occasion. It will be my first one away from the Big Easy...

March 7
A hot new pianist on the national jazz scene is New Orleans native Nick Sanders. His name may be new to you--it was to me until I sat down recently to listen to his latest (second) CD for an OffBeat review (watch for it here in a month or so).

Nick comes from a musical family in Metairie and got his training at NOCCA, where he started out fully committed to classical piano. Eventually he got into jazz and then went on to the the New England Conservatory for his undergraduate and master's degrees. He is now in his mid-twenties. Since then he has been based in New York, where he has come under the influence of master jazz pianists Danilo Perez and Fred Hersch. The latter has been particularly influential. In fact, he has produced both of Nick's recordings. Sanders has this to say about Hersch: "When you know that Fred Hersch is watching and listening to everything you're doing, you have a tendency to deliver at your utmost capabilities. But the best thing about it is just having someone so knowledgeable, who has been in the game for so long, there to give you feedback. It's huge, to know that there's someone with great ears who has my back." Hersch responds, "In these days of cookie-cutter pianists, Nick Sanders is a true original. He is already a world-class pianist--and an intriguing and quirky composer as well." Clearly a mutual admiration relationship.

"Quirky" is a good descriptor for Nick's current CD (You Are a Creature), which is a collection of 13 original compositions by the pianist. There is not one standard to be found in the program. And the album cover design further emphasizes that quirkiness. Sanders is joined by two of his NEC classmates--drummer Connor Baker and bassist Henry Fraser--who have been on both of his CDs. Naturally, the three work very well together. The music may be described as avant-garde, with the composer aiming to represent the full range of human emotional variability, often shifting abruptly and unexpectedly from melodic to dissonant. Yet it swings. However, there is little here--to my ears at least--that suggests his Crescent City pedigree--except perhaps his debt to one of his teachers, avant-garde clarinetist Alvin Batiste. You listen to the album and see what you think. I'd be interested to know.

In the meantime, he and his colleagues will be appearing at Snug Harbor on March 27. Sanders comes to town periodically and doubtless will be back again in the not too distant future. Remember his name...

February 25
The Louisiana Music Factory is celebrating its first anniversary at its Frenchmen Street location on Saturday, February 28, with an afternoon of live music. If you are anywhere in the neighborhood, check it out. And you might still find some of the hundreds of LPs that I left at the store on consignment--some real winners there...

February 17
HAPPY MARDI GRAS!! It's celebrated in St. Louis, too. But it seems to be rather tamer than in the Crescent city. (I don't know if that's good or bad...)
See also Photos page.

February 15
As you probably know, my book came out in October. A handful of reviews--all positive--have now appeared, so I decided to post some excerpts from them:

--Charles Suhor, Dixieland Jazz Mailing List (online), December 11: "If you haven't yet bought Thomas Jacobsen's new book, 'The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970-2000: A Personal Retrospective' (LSU Press), I highly recommend it...You'll recognize dozens of the OKOM and modern players and landmark clubs and events in the book. A lot of the material was new to me because I left the city in 1977, keeping sporadic contact with the music scene through my brother Don, periodicals, and internet sources. I hope someone is waiting in the wings with notes for a 2000-and-beyond book." [NB. That's precisely what I am working on now!]

--Bob Porter, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors Journal, December, 2014: "As someone who was a frequent visitor to New Orleans during the period, I recognize the scene and Jacobsen does a fine job of getting it all out there. Lots of photos."

--W. Royal Stokes, Jazz Journalists Association NEWS (roundup of jazz and blues books from 2014), December 29, 2014: " Thomas Jacobsen's [book] not only renders the musical scene of the period covered in its varietal forms, it renders it as part of a broad canvas that includes essential information on its players, both musicians and support network; the venues that have come and gone, some still active today; the political scene; the journalism and radio outlets that have reviewed and supported the jazz idiom over the years; jazz education, both public school and university; and a number of other facets and circumstances. All of these categories are fleshed out with interesting material on the individuals involved. Jacobsen...has made use of his time there by constant presence on the jazz scene and involvement in its community, collecting his impressions and recording his data whenever he came into contact with that community...His outlook and taste are definitely catholic and his coverage comprehensive. All styles played in the city are given their due in this essential book. Photographs, notes, bibliography, index."

--David Kunian, OffBeat, February, 2015: "Thomas Jacobsen is well qualified to assess New Orleans jazz in the last third of the last century. His latest book is a short survey of jazz in the Crescent City divided up by decade. Each chapter is divided up to sections on live music clubs, festivals, education, brass bands and musical luminaries...an informative...means of providing information. Where he excels is the recalling of some histories that have been glossed over such as the early, controversial history of Jazz Fest, the lack of development of Rampart Street, or the saga of Clarence "Buckwater" Washington. He also gives recognition to some of the unsung pieces and people of the New Orleans music puzzle... This is a great reference book..."

I will add more as they become available.

February 5
See the Works page for my review of Duke Heitger's latest CD in the February issue of OffBeat.

February 2
A note from young trumpeter Gordon Au, formerly of New Orleans, tells of his current activities in his current home, New York City. Among other things, he leads the Grand St. Stompers, "a New Orleans-style hot jazz band" (in his words). The band has been playing at such distinguished venues as the Cafe Carlyle and Dizzy's Club in Jazz at Lincoln Center...and has received some impressive reviews. For example, Nate Chinen of the NY Times writes, "Led by Gordon Au, an impeccably trained trumpeter with an antiquarian ear, the Grand St. Stompers have become a pillar of New York's hot jazz scene." To which critic Will Friedwald adds (in the Wall Street Journal), "The young trumpeter Gordon Au's...music is the living embodiment of the great New Orleans revival..." He also plays, "semi-regularly," with Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, one of the most popular bands in the Big Apple. Au, now in his mid-thirties, is a graduate of the Monk Institute while it was headquartered in NOLA. He's clearly one of fine young trumpet players (in both the trad and mod styles) on the scene today.

January 25
Quote of the day. After reading Herbie Hancock's new autobiography, Possibilities, jazz pianist Matthew Shipp had some interesting thoughts, among which was the following: "I figured his new memoir...would offer a good look at what went on in jazz and jazz-related cultural movements in the '60s and '70s. I also thought that it might shed some light on why jazz is so fucked up nowadays, and whether icons from the '70s like Hancock and others are actually part of the problem... One thing the book brought home to me was how much of a radical discontinuity the '60s actually were. Whereas in earlier eras a jazz musician would have had just a few directions to choose from, in the '60s, everything--hard bop, post-bop, modal jazz, the beginnings of jazz rock and, of course, the many permutations of free jazz, among other styles--was on the table."[The Talk House, January 24, 2015].

While Shipp generally praised Hancock and his book, I thought the above insight of "radical discontinuity" in the 1960s was most apropos. I wish I had had that quotation before I wrote my latest book! It was precisely at that time that I was transitioning from graduate school into the real world and leaving behind (at least temporarily) my jazz playing and intense interest in the music. For most of the next decade I was deeply engaged in my professional development and had only very brief moments to enjoy my favorite music. By the time I was able to return to it for longer periods, I had some catching up to do and my tastes were changing. In retrospect, the '60s (and '70s) were a critical time in jazz history...as I tried to demonstrate to some degree in my book.


January 18
A great night of music last night as my wife and I took in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Group at St. Louis' Jazz Bistro. The core group--Terell Stafford, tumpet; Victor Goines, reeds; Chris Crenshaw, trombone; Jamal Nichols, bass; Alvin Atkinson, drums--was augmented by local pianist Phil Dunlap, and trombonist/​arranger Cody Henry sat in for one number (an original composition by Dunlap). A wonderfully talented and swinging ensemble, as you can well imagine. This was the first time that I heard Crenshaw, and he made a very favorable impression.

Though they had two shows a night on Friday and Saturday, they had been in town for a week working with hundreds of local school children. This is the strategy of the Jazz St. Louis program headquartered in the same complex as the Bistro in downtown St. Louis. Nearly all national performers who appear at the Bistro do these kinds of master classes with students. It's an amazing and very important undertaking.

Finally, it was particularly pleasant for me to hear and talk to old New Orleans friend Victor Goines once again. He's a wonderful musician and very nice man. As you know, I am especially partial to the reeds--and he is one of my favorites.

See the Photos page for a few pics of the performance.

January 14
The Danny Barker Guitar and Banjo Festival gets underway today, on what would be Barker's 106th birthday. He passed away in 1994.

Barker's birthday has been celebrated locally since the centennial of his birth, but the present event is the first of its kind. The festival has been organized by guitarist/​banjoist Detroit Brooks, and he is already planning to make it an annual celebration.

The festival kicks off with concerts at Snug Harbor featuring Brooks, Steve Masakowski and many others. On successive days thereafter, there will be a variety of presentations featuring a host of prominent local guitarists and banjoists. The festival, after all, is focusing on the importance of the two instruments in New Orleans jazz. In line with that, Yoshio Toyama's Wonderful World of Jazz Foundation from Japan is donating five banjos to be given away to young students showing a strong interest in learning the instrument. One can google the festival for more details.

As for next year, Brooks promises that it will be "10 times the size" of this year's fest.

January 12
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival announced today its schedule for JazzFest 2015. More than 500 bands will be appearing over seven days (April 24-26, April 30-May 3), with >80% of the performers coming from the New Orleans region. Advanced single-day tickets are $58 while the gate price will be $70. For more, google the fest's website.

January 7
With the Joan of Arc parade in the French Quarter and the Phunny Phorty Phellows on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, Carnival season officially began yesterday. Mardi Gras follows on Tuesday, February 17 this year.

Let's hope for a fun-filled and non-violent season for our friends in the Crescent City in 2015!

January 1, 2015

BEST WISHES FOR A PEACEFUL AND HEALTHFUL NEW YEAR!!

Unfortunately, New Year's Day finds me recovering from a mild bout of pneumonia. I was just released from the hospital yesterday afternoon and am on a strict advisory to chill out for a while. Which means that I had to cancel my trip to San Diego next week to attend the annual meetings of the Jazz Education Network (JEN). A real drag, but we all know that "things" can happen...

I also regret to report a couple of critical losses sustained by the jazz world while I was under the weather. Number one, the wonderful New Orleans saxophonist and bandleader Al Belletto passed away on Friday night December 26. Al was a major figure in establishing the modern jazz scene in the Crescent City after World War II. He was 86 and will be dearly missed. On the national scene, a pioneer modern jazz clarinetist (and one of my favorite clarinet players of all time)--Buddy DeFranco--died two days earlier. He was 91.

I will check out these details further and get back to you as soon as I'm little less wobbly... For more on Belletto, see the comings and goings and photos pages.



December 25

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

December 22
"Our Times: The Louis Armstrong childhood arrest that no one knew about" screams the headline in this morning's Times-Picayune/​nola.com. The lengthy piece by James Karst recounts the story based on documents from the old Colored Waifs Home rescued by one Allen Kimble Jr.

In short, the documents testify to the arrest of Armstrong and six other boys on October 21, 1910 for being "dangerous and suspicious characters." For which Armstrong was sent to the Colored Waifs Home for the first time. You will remember that he was committed to the Home again in 2013 for the famous shooting incident. This then becomes the first indication of a prior arrest and prior residence at the Home. Armstrong scholar Ricky Riccardi of the Louis Armstrong House in NYC, calls the discovery "mind-blowing." He goes on to say, "I've been spending half my life researching Armstrong, and this is a breakthrough."

Mr. Kimble, an African American and New Orleans native, returned to the city in 2008 after considerable travels. He says he hopes to create a foundation to honor Armstrong and his influential mentors at the Colored Waifs Home and "to research, record and preserve our endangered history and culture."

For more details, check out Karst's story in today's nola.com. It includes photographs of some of the relevant documents.

December 16
It was just announced yesterday that young trumpeter John Michael Bradford, 18 and a senior at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, was named a 2015 Young Arts finalist in jazz and trumpet. He is one of just 170 young artists chosen out of more than 11,000 contestants from across the country to participate in Young Arts Week in Miami January 4-11.

I have been aware of Bradford's prodigious talents for three or four years now and have been impressed with him since the very first time I heard him. He has performed widely in the city (and abroad) with a variety of groups ranging from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to his own quintet. He plays all styles from trad to mod...and plays them well! Among the music programs that he is considering upon graduation are Juilliard, the New School and Berklee, all major training grounds for jazz prospects. I consider Bradford the next great trumpeter to come out of New Orleans and would be very surprised if he did not win top honors in Miami next month. (For a recent photo of Bradford, scroll down on the photos page to his June performance at Snug Harbor.)

December 15
I have started reading the new book--DESIRE & DISASTER IN NEW ORLEANS, Tourism, Race, and Historical Memory(Duke University Press, 2014) by Lynnell L. Thomas--and find it most informative and stimulating. Thomas, a native New Orleanian, is on the faculty of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

As we all know, New Orleans is dominated by the tourism industry. Thomas investigates the relationship between tourism, cultural production and racial politics by showing how the tourism industry portrays race and culture in the city. Since the city is one of the leading tourist destinations, the book should be required reading for all tourists--to say nothing of those of us who love the city and its music.

December 12
It has been some time in coming, but the New Orleans J&H Foundation will be celebrating the grand opening of the new George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1225 N. Rampart Street, with a concert this evening. Starting at 8 pm there will be a performance by students and faculty of the Heritage School of Music. That will be followed by a 90-minute concert by the founding director of the Heritage School of Music, saxophonist Kidd Jordan and his distinguished children, Kent (flute), Marlon (trumpet), Rachel (violin), and vocalist Stephanie. It should be quite a show!

The new facility will be an education and community center, serving as the permanent home of the Heritage School of Music as well as the locale for programs and events produced by the J&HF--not to mention also being available for activities of other community arts organizations.

December 6
Congratulations to David Sager, Library of Congress-man, trombonist and sometime New Orleanian, for the Grammy nomination for his liner notes to the album "Happy: The 1920 Rainbo Orchestra Sides" on the Archaeophone label. May he be a winner!

December 4
Just a quick note to alert you to a new recording that has come across my desk. It is called "Sugar Blues" and is performed by a group known as the Crescent City Quartet. While one might expect a band made up of New Orleanians, that is not exactly the case. The band members have all travelled to the Crescent City, but none can claim residency there. Indeed, we are told that the leader, guitarist Alex Belhaj, was "inspired" by a visit (his first?) to New Orleans just four years ago. Probably the closest to a native Orleanian is clarinetist Ray Heitger who, as many of you will know, has been a frequent visitor to the city over the years--not least because of the presence of his son, the outstanding trumpeter Duke Heitger. Ray is a well-known bandleader in Toledo, OH, as is his longtime colleague cornetist Dave Kosmyna. Belhaj and bassist Jordan Schug are from the Detroit area. This foursome has been playing together at least since 2011, when some of the tracks on this CD were recorded. (Others were laid down two years later, and the whole was just released last month.)

The program consists of a dozen well-known trad numbers that feature some fine playing by both Heitger and Kosmyna along with vocals by Heitger and Belhaj. It is good traditional jazz by a seasoned group of players. You may wish to check it out.

November 26 There was more destructive behavior last night in Ferguson. Less than the previous night, but still bad with >40 more arrests. I can understand that behavior; it is a result of deep anger. But the perpetrators must come to realize that it is counterproductive and cannot be tolerated. I do not see this struggle--both locally and nationally--coming to a quick solution. Time will require patience and understanding among all of us.

November 25
Despite being a relative newcomer to St. Louis, I cannot help but comment briefly upon last night's Grand Jury decision in the Michael Brown case. I have been following closely the developments in this case for the last two months (or slightly more) and have come to the preliminary conclusion that the legal process conducted by the prosecutor Mr. McCulloch has been a total charade. The Grand Jury was conducted, in my opinion, like a court trial without the benefit of cross-examination of witnesses. Under the circumstances, there was no chance that the police officer would be indicted. That is unfair. The nature of the case was such, in my opinion, that it deserved to be heard in a standard jury trial. While I would be hesitant to suggest that the prosecutor's motivation was racially based, it is abundantly clear that racial issues lay at the heart of this case. Accordingly (and I think correctly) it has become a national cause celebre. (Did anyone see the account of the demonstrations in New Orleans in today's nola.com?) My hope is that enough attention will be drawn to all the implications of this case to lead this country to right those many wrongs. I have to admit, however, that I am not any more optimistic that anything positive will come of this than with the gun debate in our country. In my opinion, guns lie at the heart of our problems as much as racism. The two combine to create a truly sad situation.

I've said enough for now. I may choose to revise the above later. Your reactions would be welcome.

November 22
New Orleans trumpeter (and St. Louis native) Jeremy Davenport will be at the Jazz Bistro in St. Louis for a two-night engagement next weekend. It is said to be his 15th Thanksgiving weekend performance in St. Louis since settling in the Crescent City in the early '90s.

November 16

The Jacobs School of Music has changed a good bit since I retired from Indiana University (Bloomington) in 1992. Not to mention the name of school itself, a new component has recently been added to the wonderful jazz studies program headed until recently by David Baker. It is a Latin jazz group that seems to have been inaugurated with the appointment of acclaimed percussionist Michael Spiro to the faculty three years ago. Soon thereafter, as I have noted in this column earlier, Latin-oriented trombonist Wayne Wallace was appointed to a full professor's position in the School.

One of the results of this has been the creation of a group called Ritmos Unidos whose name implies--correctly--that it is inspired by rhythms and melodies from various corners of the Caribbean. Spiro, an eight-time Grammy nominee, leads the ensemble, which consists of other IU faculty members and students/​alumni including Wallace (trombone), Pat Harbison (trumpet), Joe Galvin (percussion), Nate Johnson (tenor saxophone) and Jamaal Baptiste (piano). This is a spirited group that deserves watching, adding a bit of hot sauce to the Midwestern jazz scene.

Both Spiro and Wallace have close associations with the well-established San Francisco Bay Area Latin music scene. A second (double) album (also on the Patois label and also released earlier this year) is Salsa De La Bahia, vol. 2, Hoy y Ayer an historical collection of Bay Area bands and artists ranging from the likes of Pete Escovedo and the Orquesta Batachanga to contemporary groups such as Wayne Wallace's Latin Jazz Quintet. A lot of vocals on this one.

With these two offerings we have more spirited Latin rhythms which, with the help of Spiro and Wallace, are bringing the lively Bay Area music scene to the Midwest.

November 11

This is to urge lovers of classic jazz to consider attending the second annual Steamboat Stomp on the steamboat Natchez this weekend, November 14-16. With people like Duke Heitger, Evan Christopher, Tim Laughlin, Banu Gibson and Topsy Chapman--among others--it promises to be another entertaining event. For more, see www.steamboatstompneworleans.com. Enjoy.

November 8
See the photos page for a few pics from my New Orleans trip. They were taken by Linda Abbott, Eddie Bayard and Mary Saltarelli, all of whom I thank kindly.

N.B. There will be another memorial tribute for Lionel Ferbos tomorrow, November 9, at Trinity Episcopal Church on Jackson Avenue in the Lower Garden District from 5-6:00 pm. His former band, the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, will provide the music for the event.

Finally, let me report briefly on my first jazz encounter since moving to St. Louis. Last Thursday night (Nov. 6), I had the pleasure of visiting the newly renovated Jazz Bistro (Ferring Jazz Bistro), 3536 Washington Avenue. The club is the performance venue of Jazz St. Louis's new home, The Harold & Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. which also includes the Centene Jazz Education Center.The club is an elegant venue seating some 220 on the main floor and another 50 or so in a surrounding balcony. The acoustics and sight-lines for the music are excellent. It's an extraordinary jazz club, probably the best I've ever been in. The pricing and other attributes remind me more of New York City than New Orleans. But more about those comparisons at another time.

The evening's music was provided by the fine saxophonist (tenor and soprano)
Joshua Redman whom I have followed since the early '90s. His trio included Gregory Hutchinson, drums, and Reuben Rogers on bass. Redman's playing can be gorgeous on standard ballads, but, more often, it can be "a bit of an adventure," as he puts it. By that I mean somewhat more "outside" for my tastes. In any case, it was an interesting evening, and the full house loved it. I look forward to more evenings at the Bistro. In fact, a couple of New Orleanians, trumpeter Jeremy Davenport, a St. Louis native, and reedman Victor Goines, have upcoming dates scheduled for the club. And, don't forget, ace pianist Peter Martin, a St. Louis native who spent many years in New Orleans, is back in town here. I am told that he plays monthly gigs at another significant local jazz venue (the Sheldon Concert Hall)--so I must check that out.

As the above suggests, St. Louis has an active jazz scene, and I intend to explore it more as time passes. I might add that it has a full-time jazz radio outlet at FM 88.7.
So, I'm happy...



November 5
Just a few odds and ends left over from my New Orleans trip. First off, I would remind you of the annual Scandinavian Festival at the Norwegian Seamen's Church (1772 Prytania St.) this coming weekend, November 7-9. While I was in town, everyone in the church community was busily preparing the wonderful Scandinavian foods and gifts that will be available at the event. And, of course, there will be plenty of music every day with bands headed by Lars Edegran, Sid Snow, Paul Longstreth and MJ and the Redeemers featured. Activities begin at 10 am daily. The full program can be seen online at www.sjomannskirken.co/​neworleans.

I would like to recommend a site for those wishing an insider's view of the New Orleans music scene. It's a column written by fine local tenor saxophonist John Doheny, who has been living in NOLA for more than a decade. He studied jazz in Vancouver, B. C., where he was a close friend of the wonderful reedman, the late Brian Ogilvie, and later did graduate work and served on the music faculty at Tulane. Doheny's column, "Our Man in New Orleans," can be found on the website www.vancouverjazz.com. Check it out.

Finally, I picked up a new CD while in NOLA by a group of top local musicians. It's called "Swing Stories from New Orleans" by the Larry Scala Band. As many of you probably know, Scala is an excellent guitarist who has worked with a number of local bands since moving to New Orleans a few years ago. Here he is joined by Tom Fischer, clarinet (and tenor on one track); Ray Moore, tenor saxophone; Richard Moten, bass; and Charlie Kohlmeyer, drums. (Trombonist Rick Trolsen and drummer Cori Walters sit in on a couple of tracks as well.) A first-class group of musicians who collectively and individually contribute to a wonderfully swinging album. I recommend it warmly.



October 31
Well, I'm back in the saddle in "The Lou" (as some around here call St. Louis) after a whirlwind trip to New Orleans (October 22-28, including travel time on the road).
All went well, and I had an opportunity to see many old friends in the music community.

My book signings at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe on the 23rd, the Louisiana Music Factory on the 25th and the Norwegian Seamen's Church on the 26th pretty much came off as expected. I appreciate those who turned out and bought my new book, and I really appreciated that each occasion was accompanied by live music. Ace reedman Otis Bazoon led the fine Thursday night band at the Palm Court. A hot new steel guitar band ("Steelisms") from Nashville performed while I was signing at the Music Factory. And a special treat was pianist Tom McDermott put together a fine trio that included Tim Laughlin on clarinet and James Singleton on bass at the church--a truly class group of instrumentalists (and composers). Pictures were taken at each occasion, and I'll add them to the site as they become available.

I concluded my stay by catching the last Nickel-A-Dance soiree of the season at the Maison on Sunday evening. The Palm Court Jazz Band led by Jamie Wight and Brian O'Connell performed a tribute to the legendary Lionel Ferbos who died last July at the age of 103 (and to whom my last book was dedicated).

It was nice to get back to NOLA, even if I'd only been away for a little over a month. But I can assure y'all that I'll be going back again and again. After living there for a quarter of a century, it's not easy to get the city and its unique culture out of one's blood.

October 17
Yet another new CD worthy of note is by the distinguished New Orleans father-and-son tandem of Delfeayo and Ellis Marsalis, their first complete album together. It's called "The Last Southern Gentlemen" and features a quartet that includes the great John Clayton on bass and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums.

Every time I've listened to Delfeayo play--especially those times with his fine Uptown Jazz Orchestra--I've been taken with the trombonist's rendering of ballads. Here, we have an opportunity to hear him play a number of them, with the incomparable and tasteful help of his father on piano and a first-rate rhythm section. The list includes the lovely evergreens "Autumn Leaves," "She's Funny that Way," "But Beautiful," "Speak Low," "My Romance," "I Cover the Waterfront," and his own original "The Secret Love Affair." But there are some spirited pieces as well--including one ("Sesame Street") with a funky backbeat provided by guest percussionist Herlin Riley on tambourine and bass drum.

As Delfeayo puts it, "Throughout this recording our aim was to communicate a feeling of graciousness and sincerity, relaxation and gentility. The early jazzmen believed that the social and emotional aspects of the music defined great jazz performance much more than the techniques or academic analysis. Jazz should offer a direct communication between the artist and the audience."

All in all, this is an excellent CD by a fine group of musicians. I like Delfeayo's playing the more I hear it. I recommend it highly.

October 12
Another of the recent batch of new recordings that has come across my desk is one of the best. It is by a group new to me with the somewhat alarming name of "Mostly Other People Do the Killing" (hereafter MOPDK). But don't let that turn you off. They're an outstanding group of young musicians founded by bassist/​composer Moppa Elliott in 2003. They have since won a number of awards, including a DownBeat's Critics' poll winner as Rising Star Ensemble.

The name of the album is simply Blue, but what makes it most interesting is that it is a note-for-note recreation of Miles Davis's classic 1959 album, Kind of Blue considered by many as the top jazz album of all time. It certainly is in my own top five.

As a literal recreation of a jazz classic it is not unique. We know of many that have done the same with earlier jazz recordings. But, to my knowlege, this is the longest and first to address a more modern recording. Be that as it may, it explores the relationship between "classical" music and jazz as "America's classical music" (as some have called it). In a sense, as one observer has put it, "it is a classical approach to a legendary jazz work."

The album challenges the listener to examine jazz education today. "In its push to become a legitimized art form, the academic jazz education system has had to create a concrete way to study jazz that conforms to previous academic models, "Elliott says. "Over the course of many years of teaching students to improvise the idea of transcription has become central. While transcribing other musicians' improvisations has always been at the core of how people learn jazz, in the academic setting it can distort the essence of improvised music. If emulating and imitating the master musicians of history is a desired goal, however, then Blue is an apotheosis."

While it will be interesting to see the reactions of musicians and musical scholars to the album, I for one found it wonderful listening because, as I've said, it has always been one of my favorites. I strongly recommend it. Incidentally, Peter Evans is the young trumpeter who brings back the spirit of Miles here.

October 10
I have received a number of new recordings in the time between my departure from New Orleans and now. I will be mentioning several of them here as we move forward, but I begin with one of the most recent.

I have mentioned the wonderful pianist/​composer Fred Hersch here in the past. One of his latest projects is a DVD of his "jazz theater" composition My Coma Dreams done in collaboration with writer/​director Herschel Garfein. The DVD is a live performance of the production starring talented actor/​singer Michael Winther at the Miller Theatre of Columbia University last year.

As many of you know, Hersch suffered a near fatal attack of HIV/​AIDS in 2008. He was in a coma for two months, and this composition is the result of eight dreams he recalled after being in that state. The music is gorgeous and performed by an 11-piece instrumental ensemble that includes Hersch on piano. Winther does a splendid job of portraying both Hersch and his significant other Scott Morgan in Garfein's moving libretto.

The DVD is slated for release on November 25 in honor of World AIDS Day. This is a truly outstanding performance. I cannot recommend it too enthusiastically.

I would urge you to check out the following link: http:/​/​www.treatmentactiongroup.org/​mcd.

October 1, 2014
I am now--at long last--nearly settled in my new digs in St. Louis. It was an eventful move (as perhaps most are) from New Orleans to here, but at least we made it in one piece (if not all of our belongings experienced a similar fate).

The good news is that my new book from LSU Press--The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970-2000-- came out during the interval between our leaving the Crescent City and now. I have already begun to receive favorable reactions to it. Accordingly, I will be returning to New Orleans in about three weeks for a series of book signings. They are scheduled for the Palm Court Jazz Cafe at 7:00 pm on October 23, the Louisiana Music Factory at 2:00 pm on October 25, and the Norwegian Seamen's Church at 11:00 am on October 26. Tom McDermott will lead a small group at the latter, but there will be live music at all of the events. I hope to see you on one of these occasions or elsewhere during my brief stay in the city.

For details, do not hestitate to contact me via the above link.

August 31
The Norwegian Seamen's Church, the "Jazz Church in New Orleans," today celebrated the 150th anniversary of its patron, the international Norwegian Seamen's Mission, which supports all Seamen's Churches throughout the world. The local church was founded more than 100 years ago.

To celebrate the occasion, trumpeter (and old friend of the church) Gregg Stafford put together an excellent six-piece band, which performed at today's service. The band included Michael White, clarinet; Lucien Barbarin, trombone; Detroit Brooks, banjo; Sidney Snow, bass; and Herman Lebeaux, drums. Needless to say, their inspired performance represented the best of traditional New Orleans jazz. See photos page.

August 30
I cannot let this day go by without making note of yesterday's ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Much has happened to all of us survivors, the city and its environs since that fateful day and the ensuing days and weeks that included further damage caused by the oft-overlooked Hurricane Rita. The result has been a much smaller city (ca. 80% of its 2000 population) and metropolitan area (ca. 7% decline from 2000). Yet the economy is improving (tourism, of course, remains at its base), and entrepreneurship is expanding. At the same time, the poverty rate, despite some volatility, remains at the level that it was in 1999. And adult educational attainment continues to lag the national averages. There is, in short, considerable room for improvement across the board. It is important to remember the >1,800 lives that were lost in Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. As the editorial board of NOLA. com noted, these deaths "will always make [August 29, 2014] a hallowed day."

Personally, it is ironic that my wife and I will soon be returning to St. Louis, where we spent two months in evacuation from Katrina nearly a decade ago. This time, however, our traveling party will not include my mother-in-law and one cat who are no longer with us...

August 23
Since I announced our plans to move to St. Louis nearly two months ago (see below), I have been almost completely immersed in packing and piling up boxes--to the detriment of my aching back--for the movers to pick up in less than three weeks. Our expected departure date is Monday, September 15. For those interested, you can contact me for our mailing address in St. Louis. I think my contact link is finally working once again...

Meanwhile, many of you will recall the plans for a film about Buddy Bolden produced by wealthy Chicagoan Dan Pritzger. After a good deal of initial preparations, the project was put on hold by Pritzger for alleged quality control reasons. The biopic now seems to be back into production and actor/​singer Gary Carr has been named to play the lead in the film. (Incidentally, Carr is starring in the TV hit "Downton Abbey," a favorite of my wife.) Others in the film cast besides Carr/​Bolden are Ian McShane, who will portray Bolden's nemesis Judge Perry, and Nelson Ellis, the wily manager of Bolden's band. Music for the film will be composed and performed by Wynton Marsalis. Now that it seems on its way again, we look forward to the film's premiere in the near future.

N.B.
My interview with veteran guitarist Warren Battiste is just out in the current (August) issue of Offbeat magazine (page 16). See the Works page for the text of the article.

August 8
My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the screening of a documentary film, "Jazz Dreams II," at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) last night. The film documented very well jazz education at NOCCA by detailing the education and early careers of three outstanding NOCCA students: Courtney Bryan, Jason Marsalis and Irvin Mayfield. The film was produced by Dr. Geoffrey Poister of Boston University (he was at UL Lafayette at the time) and was a 14-year project that began in 1998. Highlights included the beginning of Los Hombres Calientes; the career of Ms. Bryan, who after graduating from NOCCA in 2000 attended Oberlin, Rutgers and finally received her Ph.D. in composition at Columbia University; and, most notably, a tribute to Clyde Kerr Jr., the stimulating and nurturing mentor of these and other jazz students at NOCCA. Mark Samuels of Basin Street Records introduced the program, which concluded with a panel discussion led by Jonathan Bloom and including Kidd Jordan, Poister, Mayfield and Bryan. It served not only as a tribute to Mr. Kerr but to the wonderful institution of NOCCA itself, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. And the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp is celebrating its 20th year. Look for the film on PBS. (See also photos page.)

August 7
The French Quarter Festivals Inc. announced today that Satchmo SummerFest 2014 set an attendance record, nearly doubling numbers from 2012.

August 6
I was impressed with the turnout at the Old Mint on Sunday afternoon. I have since learned that SatchFest drew more than 57,000 attendees during the three-day weekend. It has also been reported that hotel occupancy in the city was at 99% for the weekend. That speaks well for the economic infusion to the city, but I have no idea how these numbers compare with the past.

August 4
Happy Birthday, Louis!

Satchmo SummerFest drew to a close yesterday, and I managed to catch a couple of hours of it. I particularly enjoyed the hour-long interview of the great Wycliff Gordon by Fred Kasten. A longtime member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Gordon is now deeply involved in jazz education on the university level as well as leading his own band. He has a brand new CD out, entitled "Hello Pops." For some pics of my afternoon at the festival, see the photos page.


August 2
Back at the ClarinetFest, first for the excellent hour-long presentation by Michael White on "The Early Clarinet in New Orleans." He talked about most of the early clarinetists and their training and individual styles. He demonstrated his points by playing with his quartet: Gregg Stafford, trumpet; Seva Venet, banjo; and Mitchell Player, bass. As an academic by training, White knows how to give a well-organized and informative lecture. See photos page.

This was immediately followed by a brief recital by Brazilian choro clarinetist, Reinaldo Lima. Clearly a legitimately trained clarinetist, Lima demonstrated outstanding technique as well as sensitive feeling for the choro (a Brazilian music contemporary with--and similar to--ragtime in North America). One of the pieces he played (not a choro) was his arrangement of a Charlie Parker tune--"Donna Lee sambando"--which showed that the clarinetist also has a definite feel for jazz. It seems that he is fluent on flute and the saxophones as well as the clarinet. See photos page.)

That ended ClarinetFest 2014 for me though the programs continued through Sunday, the third. I have attended many of these festivals over the years, and I have to say that this was one of the best. While I had a chance to sample only a fraction of all that was offered, three days of driving back and forth between New Orleans and Baton Rouge (1 1/​2 hr. drive each way) was worth it. I missed several other jazz performances, not least of which was a tribute to 84-year-old Pete Fountain. Although his health is not good, Pete made the trip to be on hand for the occasion.

August 1
A wake for the late Lionel Ferbos was held this evening at the Charbonnet Funeral on St. Phillip Street. A large throng of family, friends, admirers, and local musicians gathered to pay their respects to one of the city's true gentlemen. A prayer card handed out at the wake included a Ferbos quotation, which so characterizes the man: "I always tip my hat at everybody. It doesn't take much to be kind. Even if they don't smile back, it doesn't matter. I see them, and I smile." Music for the occasion was provided by Michael White, clarinet; Gregg Stafford, trumpet; Clive Wilson, trumpet; Seva Venet, guitar; Lars Edegran, banjo; Sidney Snow, bass; and Joe Lastie, drums. (See photos page.)

The funeral will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, with visitation beginning at 8 a.m. The memory of Lionel Ferbos will remain with me for ever.

July 31
A big day at ClarinetFest 2014 today! The highlight was the 2 1/​2 hour concert, "A Night of Jazz," that concluded the day.

The program began with New Orleanians Evan Christopher and 26-year-old Gregory Agid demonstrating the New Orleans clarinet style, from the traditional through the contemporary. The program included original compositions by both clarinetists as well as standards by Bechet and Alvin Batiste. An outstanding program that concluded with a four-clarinet jam, with Harry Skoler and Felix Peikli joining Evan and Greg.

Christopher and Agid were followed by veteran Harry Skoler, professor of woodwinds at Berklee in Boston and a wonderful clarinetist in the mainstream swing-bop traditio