You will see that I editorialize/personalize here more than on other pages. See also the News and Comings and Goings pages.
The Palm Court Jazz Café hosted a memorial tribute for ace clarinetist Jack Maheu who passed away in August at the age of 83. Tim Laughlin served as emcee and had some nice words to say about his longtime relationship with Jack. Others who spoke in remembrance of Maheu were Tom McDermott, Deano Assunto, Jack’s half brother from California Jim Hargraves and myself. Bruce O’Neill sang one of Maheu’s novelty compositions, “There’s Something in the Water.” Music was provided by a band made up of Laughlin, clarinet; Eddie Bayard, trumpet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Tim Paco, bass; and Herman Lebeaux, drums. A large crowd gathered for the occasion. (See photos page.)
Starting the copy-editing process for the new book. Ugh.
The Palm Court Jazz Café opens once again after its annual summer hiatus. Clarinetist Tim Laughlin is scheduled to provide the music on opening night.
I have never done this here before, but I have heard so many good new recordings that I want to share a few of them in this column. All have been released this year, and all have made a most favorable impression upon me:
—Harold Battiste Presents The Next Generation Big Band, AFO Foundation recording. If you like big band jazz, you’ll love this one. It’s an awesome assemblage of some of New Orleans’ best young talent playing original music by Battiste (mostly), Ellis Marsalis, and James Black–the old AFO crowd.
—Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Foolers’ Gold, self-produced. Lake is one of the city’s top female vocalists, who has begun to gain a formidable international reputation as well. This CD reveals her stylistic versatility, with some very nice instrumental accompaniment by her own fine band and several distinguished guest artists. See the pic of her and her band on the Photos page.
—Christian Winther and Richard D. Johnson, Two People, The Music of Billy Strayhorn, twopeopleproductions. Danish-born New Orleans resident Winther is perhaps my favorite all-around local reedman. He is here joined by pianist Johnson, a native of Pittsburgh (the home of legendary pianists Earl Hines and Errol Garner). Winther is heard on both tenor sax and clarinet. He and Johnson make a most symbiotic duo performing the wonderful music of the great Billy Strayhorn.
—Ken Peplowski, Maybe September, Capri Records. This is the latest by Peplowski, who is arguably the top jazz clarinetist in the country. He’s also a fine tenor saxophonist, and he is heard in a quartet context on both instruments in this recording. Ken is the only non-New Orleanian in this group of CDs, but he has appeared here many times. My 2003 interview with Peplowski can found in the Archive page.
Just back from Baton Rouge today, where I learned that my current book is on schedule to be published by the Louisiana State University Press by fall, 2014. The (tentative) title is An Illustrated Survey of the New Orleans Jazz Scene from 1970 to the Present, Volume 1. (It is not a coffee table book.) I have already started working on volume 2.
The big news this month was, clearly, the celebration of the 102nd birthday of trumpeter/vocalist Lionel Ferbos. There was a splendid birthday party at the Palm Court Jazz Café that evening attended by a packed/SRO house. Lionel was in great shape and sat in with the house band as both instrumentalist and vocalist. He is truly unique! See Photos Page for a few pics of the event.
June 1, 2013
Today is the official first day of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and Mayor Landrieu advises that it is time to get ready for it. It is expected to be an active season, hopefully not as serious as the worst in 2005 (which included Katrina and Rita and 24 other named storms) or even last year (the third-worst, with 19). Indeed, four of the last five years have been in the top five in numbers of named hurricanes. (Given that, coupled with the dreadful May tornado activity in the Midwest, can anyone seriously doubt the evidence for climate change?) Yet Landrieu and other metropolitan area officials say that we are better prepared this year than ever before. Let’s hope so. The hurricane season lasts through November with the worst usually taking place in August and September.
SORRY ABOUT THE HIATUS. I HAVE BEEN WORKING FEVERISHLY ON MY NEW BOOK(S), TENTATIVELY TITLED “MY YEARS IN THE CRESCENT CITY: AN ILLUSTRATED SURVEY OF THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ SCENE FROM 1970 TO THE PRESENT.” IT WILL APPEAR IN TWO VOLUMES: I (1970-2000) II (2000-PRESENT. VOLUME I IS PRESENTLY IN PRESS (LSU), AND I AM WORKING ON VOL. II. BE PATIENT. I’LL BE BACK SOON. IN THE MEANTIME, ALL THE BEST FROM THE BIG EASY.
By the way, check out the Photos page for pics from the BAYOU BOOGALOO, which took place at the south end of Bayou St. John in Mid-City on the weekend of May 17-19.