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Showing posts with label New Orleans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Orleans. Show all posts

Monday, July 4, 2016

Allen Toussaint – American Tunes - New Release Review - Stilladog - Guest Writer

On 4th of July, America’s birthday, we review American Tunes...  the last, and posthumously released, album by one of the USA’s most influential, diverse, and loved musicians, composers, and musical luminaries, the late.

This album finds Toussaint many times alone at his piano. When he is accompanied it is often sparse but with impeccable precision.   As his persona requires, all the accompanists are top notch musicians in their own right.

A man well known for his own compositions, American Tunes instead features Toussaint’s unique interpretations of other people’s American music.  Many are well known classics from his hometown, New Orleans.  

The album starts off with Delores’ Boyfriend with Toussaint alone at the piano doing what I call a “sportin’ parlor ragtime blues.”  It sounds and smells like pure New Orleans, and is the first of only 2 cuts on the album written by Toussaint himself.

The second track, Viper’s Drag,  is an old Fats Waller tune also in the ragtime vein.  Accompanied only by drummer Jay Bellerose and upright bassist David Piltch, Allen seems to just be having fun with this one.

Confessin’ (That I Love You), a jazz standard from the 1930s comes next.  This tune was popularized by Louis Armstrong.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone so comfortable in front of a keyboard as Allen is on this number.  There’s a mighty tasty little bass solo by David Piltch in this one too!

Next is a familiar song by another New Orleans legend, Professor Longhair’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans.Showcasing Toussaint again alone at the piano this tune is done at a much slower tempo than usual. As such, it yields an elegant version of this party tune.

This is followed by Lotus Blossom, a song written by Duke Ellington’s keyboardist, Billy Strayhan.  Naturally it was popularized by the Ellington Orchestra back in the 1950s.  Again at ease with an old jazz standard, the notes just flow like water down a lazy stream.

Another jazz standard, this one from the 1960s, Waltz For Debby is the next up.   A tune by Bill Evans originally recorded in 1961 is very tastefully done by just the trio.

But we’re back solidly in the Crescent City with a solo rendition of Earl King’s Big Chief which was popularized by Professor Longhair.

Then comes my favorite tune on the album, and they bring out extra instrumentation for this one. Duke Ellington’s Rocks In My Bed!  Guitar part by Bill Frisel lincluding a wonderful slide solo is complemented by absolutely magnificent vocals by Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops).

Danza, Op. 33 (Louis Moreau Gottschalk) showcases the diversity of Toussaint’s virtuosity.  A classical number that combines polka music with Caribbean rhythms it just seems a perfect fit for displaying the broad range of styles that influenced Toussaint’s songwriting.

Another Professor Longhair tune, Hey Little Girl, injects some more fun into the session as only the good Professor could do.  It is followed by the Earl “Fatha” Hines theme song, Rosetta.  Few people have been more integral to the development of jazz music than Earl Hines and this rendition gives him his due.

A second Ellington song, Come Sunday again features Rhiannon Giddens on vocals.  (Before I read the liner notes I thought it was Catherine Russell).

The other Toussaint original included here is an instrumental version of Southern Nights made famous by Glen Campbell. The album concludes aptly with American Tune by Paul Simon with Toussaint on vocals.

They say after Hurricane Katrina that, perhaps out of necessity, Allen Toussaint took to performing live and touring much more.  It is also said that his performances were often totally unscripted.  He would sit down at the piano and play whatever was in his head or his heart that day.  Since he could play damn near anything, these shows were quite a treat! And so it is that this album seems to be a collection of Allen Toussaint’s favorite songs.  American Tunes.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Honey Island Swamp Band Brings A Sledgehammer To Demolition Day - 4/29

The Honey Island Swamp Band Brings A Sledgehammer
To Demolition Day
Out April 29 During Jazz Fest In New Orleans

“They’re irresistible by their name alone…” - Elmore

Think The Band’s Music From Big Pink album and add a splash of hot sauce with “Willin’’ by Little Feat – this group of New Orleans vagabonds nails it.

New Orleans, LA or San Francisco, CA– From the pristine waters of the Honey Island Swamp, to the vibrant streets of New Orleans, to the hazy corner of Haight-Asbury in San Francisco, this band has endured devastation, relocation, and revitalization. A group whose sound has been tagged “Bayou Americana,” the Honey Island Swamp Band takes the hammer to the nail with the help of producer Luther Dickinson, and presents Demolition Day to the world April 29 on Ruf Records.

This album marks the 10-year anniversary of the Honey Island Swamp Band, which formed in San Francisco, CA via New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina displaced the founding members.  With little hope of returning to their beloved city, the band channeled the blues and emotions of their circumstances to develop a soulful style and sound that critics have compared to legendary Blues-Roots-Rock Artists such as The Allman Brothers, Little Feat and The Band.    

Recording at the Parlor Studio in New Orleans, Honey Island Swamp Band teams up with producer/musician Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars to capture a rhythm and a feel born straight from the heart of Americana. The album features a host of New Orleans finest musicians, including guest appearances by keyboardist Ivan Neville and Tab Benoit on pedal steel.  

“Their all encompassing sound of blues, roots, country, and soul has been described as “Bayou Americana.” – No Depression

“We’ve always wanted to record to two-inch tape, to get that old analog sound,” says bandleader Aaron Wilkinson, “and this was our first opportunity to make it happen. Luther was the perfect producer to help us nail that old-school, authentic sound. He was great at keeping us focused on the spirit of each performance, not getting bogged down in details and perfectionism. That’s what we were looking for and what we needed.”

After all, polish isn’t necessary when you’re working with songs this strong. Across its eleven cuts, Demolition Day tips a hat to most of the great American genres, while adding the Honey Island Swamp Band’s inimitable thumbprint. There's the spring-heeled slide-blues of “Ain’t No Fun”, the upbeat funk of “Head High Water Blues”, the cat-house piano and country-fried guitars of “How Do You Feel”. But then, on the emotional flipside, there’s also the reflective wah-guitar lilt of “Say It Isn’t True”, the mournful funeral-jazz slow-burn of “No Easy Way” and the heart-in-mouth acoustic confessional of “Katie”.

“We’re diverse and complex people,” explains Chris Mule, the band’s guitarist, “and our audiences are as well. So we try to let our music reflect that.”

Drawing from their diverse backgrounds, the band’s lyrical content is quite colorful. “They really are all over the map,” Aaron explains of the topics explored on Demolition Day. “Some are rooted in reality and personal experience. “Head High Water Blues” is a look back at the Hurricane Katrina experience now that ten years has passed. Much has been rebuilt, but much has not and never will be – and the song is more about the emotional scars that can never be fully erased. Others are just fiction and storytelling. We had the music for “Through Another Day”, and it sounded sort of old and epic and Southern, and that inspired this Civil War-era storyline that became the lyrics. Others are just sort of playful nonsense about life and relationships, like “Watch And Chain.”

Demolition Day is about rebuilding more than tearing down. It's about a renewal of purpose, reflected through powerful lyrics and stories, great slide guitar on top of deep bass and rhythms that continue to move the foundation that the band was built upon. 

New Orleans has a deep well of music, and that well has no rules - the only boundaries are the ones that we place on ourselves.

On Demolition Day, the Honey Island Swamp Band breaks these boundaries to deliver a sound so relevant and honest that even in the darkest of days – like the violent storm that brought this group of musicians together – Demolition Day still shines brightly.

Meet The Honey Island Swamp Band:
Aaron Wilkinson - mandolin, guitar, harmonica, vocals
Chris Mulé - guitar, vocals
Sam Price - bass, vocals
Garland Paul - drums, vocals
Trevor Brooks – keyboards

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Allen Toussaint has passed - My thoughts and prayers are with his family

MADRID (AP) — Legendary New Orleans pianist, songwriter, producer and performer, Allen Toussaint, who penned or produced such classics as "Working in a Coal Mine" and "Lady Marmalade," has died after suffering a heart attack following a concert he performed in Spain. He was 77. Rescue workers were called to Toussaint's hotel early Tuesday morning and managed to revive him after he suffered a heart attack, Madrid emergency services spokesman Javier Ayuso said. But Toussaint stopped breathing during the ambulance ride to a hospital and efforts to revive him again were unsuccessful, Ayuso said. Toussaint performed Monday night at Madrid's Lara Theater. "He was a legend in the music world," said Quint Davis, who produces the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Toussaint performed there so often — frequently as a headliner — that Davis said he referred to it as his "annual concert." Toussaint was born in New Orleans' Gert Town, a working class neighborhood where he lived in a "shotgun" house — so-called because you could stand at the front door and fire a shotgun through to the other side of the house. He went on to become one of the city's most legendary and celebrated performers and personalities. At first he worked as a producer for the New Orleans-based Minit Records in 1960 before being drafted in the Army for two years. He later went on to create his own recording studio in 1973 with fellow songwriter Marshall Sehorn, called Sea-Saint Studio. There he worked with a succession of musicians including Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Patti LaBelle, the late Joe Cocker and Elvis Costello. Toussaint has hundreds of hits to his name and received the Recording Academy Trustees Award during the 2009 Grammy Awards. He penned the 1966 Lee Dorsey classic "Working in a Coal Mine" and produced Dr. John's 1973 hit "Right Place, Wrong Time" and 1975's "Lady Marmalade" by the vocal trio Labelle. In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's also a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In 2013 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at a ceremony in Washington. He worked with some of the greatest names in music: Irma Thomas, the Meters, Cocker and the late Ernie K-Doe. Approaching 80, he was still active touring and performing. He had been expected to perform a benefit concert along with longtime friend Paul Simon in New Orleans on Dec. 8 at Le Petit Theatre to raise money for the organization, New Orleans Artists Against Hunger And Homelessness. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 flooded not only his home but his legendary studio, forcing Toussaint to flee to New York. Davis, from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, said during Katrina he also lost most of his manuscripts, his gold records and the often elaborate outfits in which he performed onstage. "You always saw Allen with a coat and tie and wearing sandals," Davis said. In New York, Toussaint focused largely on performing, often taking the stage at Joe's Pub on Lafayette Street in solo concerts. But like many New Orleanians, Toussaint was not able to stay away forever. Nearly eight years after Katrina, Toussaint returned permanently to the city of his birth and so much of his musical inspiration.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Big Chief Dollis has passed. Our thoughts are with his friends and family

Big Chief Theodore “Bo” Dollis, who led the Wild Magnolia tribe for several decades and whose gritty voice helped introduce Mardi Gras Indian music to a worldwide audience, has died. He was 71.
His death was announced Tuesday by the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame.
“It is with profound sadness that I must inform you of our newest ancestor. Big Chief Theodore ‘Bo’ Dollis passed this morning,” reads a message posted to the Hall of Fame’s Facebook page. “His wife, Big Queen Laurita Dollis, has requested prayers for the family and his soul at this time. Please honor her request and refrain from calls and text messages as she prepares for his public life celebration.”
Dollis was born in New Orleans in 1944 and raised in Central City. He was fascinated by the Indian tribes in his neighborhood from a young age and masked for the first time at age 14. According to published reports, Dollis made his suit at a friend’s home because he didn’t want his family to know he had become involved with the Indians, who were often associated with violence at the time.
He became chief of the Wild Magnolias in 1964 and held the position until poor health led him to hand over the reins to his son, Gerard “Bo Jr.,” a few years ago.

Dollis’ elaborate costumes and energy brought throngs of admirers to watch his “gang” take to the streets on Super Sunday each March.
“When you saw him in his Indian suit, you saw a man truly in his glory. He would electrify people around him,” said Dow Edwards, a “spy boy” for the Mohawk Hunters tribe. “You could look at the eyes of the people who were waiting, and you knew the ones who had been there before because you could see the expectation that they had. There was something special about him.”

A musical pioneer, Dollis expanded the reach of the Mardi Gras Indian sound by recording traditional chants and blending them with funk and rhythm-and-blues music. The Wild Magnolias performed at the first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1970.
With Dollis as lead vocalist, the Wild Magnolias recorded several albums, including “The Wild Magnolias” in 1974 and “They Call Us Wild” in 1975.
“Bo Dollis created the soundtrack to Mardi Gras with the Mardi Gras Indian sound,” Big Chief Juan Pardo of the Gold Comanche tribe said.
Dollis may be best known for his raw vocals, exemplified in the Mardi Gras classic “Handa Wanda,” which opens with Dollis’ powerful shout.
Dollis and the Wild Magnolias are credited with bringing the unique sound of the Mardi Gras Indians to an international audience with performances in London, Berlin and Nice, France. Dollis also led the group in performances at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
“He was the first to take Mardi Gras Indian music around the world,” said Pardo, who now performs worldwide with an Indian band. “He awakened the world to what was happening here in New Orleans with the Mardi Gras Indian sound and basically laid a path. I could not do what I go around the world to do had he not done what he’s done.”
Dollis was named a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow in 2011.
He is survived by his wife and son.

 Jaquetta White|

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Fo'Reel - Heavy Water - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Heavy Water, from Fo'Reel and I gotta say it's spectacular! Opening with one of my favorite all time funky blues tracks, Breaking Up Somebody's Home this band sets a solid groove. C.P. Love is a superb singer and he's gunning hard on the first track. Johnny Neel on organ and Mark Domizio on guitar set the pace and Domizio really makes the guitar squirm with his soulful riffs. A super horn section consisting of Jon Smith (tenor sax), Ward Smith (bari sax) and Barney Floyd (trumpet) really add depth to this already deep recording. Excellent! Next up is the title track, Heavy Water, and it has a funky New Orleans jazz funk feel. Love is again leading the way and Daryl Burgess keeps the bottom really tight pushing David Hyde on bass. Nice solos from Neel and Domizio add nicely to Love's lush vocals. Leave Your Love Alone has a change up on vocals lead by Rick Lawson. A walking bass line by Hyde really sets the tempo for this track and with it's orchestral swing feel the horns fill it up. A real cool solo from Neel and Domizio is nicely complimented by a super sax solo from Smith. Blues is a mid paced R&B style track (think Thrill Is Gone) with solid vocals from Lawson and an excellent guitar solo from Domizio and super slippery riffs from Smith. Gate is a terrific instrumental track that puts me in mind of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. Opening with clean guitar riffs from Domizio and followed by Neel on keys, a super sax solo from Smith and cool trumpet work from Floyd... this track is hard to beat! Hot! What I Can Do has a cool Latin flavor and Love on lead vocals. Neel is on electric piano with shimmery overtones and organ for fullness. Domizio skips the natural fall back "Santana" solo and puts up some real nice guitar phrasing and some sultry slide work. Very nice! Luther Allison's What's Goin On In My Home  is a super funky R&B blues style track with a lot of high stepping. Love really grabs the track by the short hairs with his vocal prowess. Domizio plays a bright articulate guitar solo over Neel riding the organ and Hyde laying down the funk.  Super!  Just As I Am opens with a super gospel feel highlighted by the piano and organ work of Neel. Allyn Robinson joins on drums and does a really nice job of sitting on the pace. Love's vocals on this track are even better than ever and with the warmth of the horns, this may be my favorite track on the release! Burgess is back on drums opening Shake N Bake, a TOP style track with hot horn funk. Hyde and Domizio really turn up the funk and with Lawson on vocals, you better be nailed to your seat lest you get fired for dancing at work... "Can't Hep Mysef" ! Excellent! Outside Love has the most traditional blues feel of all the tracks on the release, again with Lawson on lead vocals. Neel really cements the feel on this track and Domizio plays a healthy portion of slide backed by heavy horns giving it a great bluesy sound. Wrapping the track is funky Tater with really nice tandem sax work by the Smiths. Hyde really has the bottom moving on this track and Neel takes the opportunity to smoke the keyboards one more time leading up to an unconventional guitar solo from Domizio. Burgess and Hyde get a nice chance to show their stuff adding to the already smoking fire. This is an awesome release and one that you should really check out... but be ready to groove!

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dr John announces Louis Armstrong tribute album ft. Bonnie Raitt, Blind Boys of Alabama and more


New Orleans musical giant pays tribute to fellow Crescent City legend Louis Armstrong with star-studded, divinely-inspired new tribute disc

Proper Records / September 1st 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and six-time GRAMMY®-winner Dr. John is New Orleans' most prominent living musical icon. The embodiment of his hometown's freewheeling creative spirit and multiple musical traditions, he's built a visionary, idiosyncratic body of work that's deeply rooted in the Crescent City's myriad blues, R&B, jazz and rock 'n' roll traditions.

So it's fitting that Dr. John's new album on Proper Records, Ske-Dat-De-Dat...Spirit of Satch, pays heartfelt tribute to another larger-than-life New Orleans legend: the seminal trumpeter and vocalist Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, whose musical innovations created the template for 20th-century jazz, and whose playful attitude and life-embracing spirit made him a beloved figure whose worldwide appeal transcended music.

"He's the most famous guy that ever came out of my neighborhood," notes Dr. John. "He became a legend all over, for his trumpet playin' and everything else, and he was the United States' ambassador to the world."

Ske-Dat-De-Dat...Spirit of Satch honors Armstrong's musical genius as well as his effervescent personality with 13 classic numbers drawn from various phases of Armstrong's five-decade career, with Dr. John joined by a stellar supporting cast that manages to update the material while maintaining the music's timeless emotional appeal.

The subtitle Spirit of Satch is particularly appropriate given the album's birth cycle, which Dr. John says was set into motion when the late Armstrong—whom he'd only met once during his lifetime, in the office of their mutual manager Joe Glaser—came to him in a dream.

"Louis's spirit came to me and told me to do something, that's how this whole thing started," says Dr. John, who's previously released tribute albums to musical giants Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer. "Louis told me, 'Take my music and do it your way.'  It was the most unexpected thing in the world to me, to have Louis' spirit show up like that, but he gave me a concept of where to roll with it that was spiritually correct. That made me feel very open to try some different things, because I felt that his spirit had ok'ed this record."

Prior to making the album, Dr. John honored Satchmo on stage, presenting rapturously received tribute concerts, dubbed "Props to Pops," at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2012 and at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2013.

In addition to Dr. John's trademark vocals and piano, and backup from some of New Orleans' finest musicians, Ske-Dat-De-Dat...Spirit of Satch features a stellar assortment of guest singers and players. Bonnie Raitt shares the spotlight on a swinging reading of "I've Got the World On A String," Ledisi and the McCrary Sisters lend gospel authority to "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," Anthony Hamilton is featured on a mournful "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," Shemekia Copeland trades verses with Dr. John on a playful reworking on "Sweet Hunk O' Trash," and the Blind Boys of Alabama lend their powerful voices to "What A Wonderful World" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams."

Since Ske-Dat-De-Dat...Spirit of Satch is a tribute to the man who popularized the trumpet for a worldwide audience, it's fitting that the project should feature some of today's greatest trumpeters, namely Nicholas Payton (on "What A Wonderful World" and "Gut Bucket Blues"), Terence Blanchard ("Mack the Knife," "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams"), Arturo Sandoval ("Tight Like This," "Memories of You"), Wendell Brunious ("Thats My Home") and James Andrews ("Dippermouth Blues"), along with New Orleans' legendary horn ensemble the Dirty Dozen Brass Band ("When You're Smiling").

"The whole thing felt pretty special, and I definitely was in a different zone for this record," says Dr. John, who co-produced the album with his longtime trombonist Sarah Morrow, who also arranged ten of the album's 13 tracks. "I wanted to pull together some of his hits and some of songs he wasn't as well known for, and make them feel fresh and different. Sarah wrote some slammin' charts that kept everything spacious and hip. And everybody played and sang great, and gave it their own spirit."

Ske-Dat-De-Dat...Spirit of Satch is the latest achievement in a singular musical history that stretches back to the 1950s, when Dr. John—then still known by his given name, Mac Rebennack—emerged as an in-demand producer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter on New Orleans' studio scene, working for such local labels as Ace, Ron and Ric, collaborating with the likes of James Booker, Earl King, Professor Longhair, Art Neville and Frankie Ford, and scoring the regional solo hit "Storm Warning."

In the early '60s, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he played on countless sessions before debuting his flamboyant new musical persona, "Dr. John, The Night Tripper," with his first solo album, 1968's Gris-Gris, which introduced the world to his uniquely eclectic voodoo-funk. In the years since, he has remained a distinctly prolific and powerful force, releasing more than 30 albums of his own while collaborating with a broad array of acts including the Rolling Stones, Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Gregg Allman, Mike Bloomfield, Levon Helm, Ringo Starr, Rickie Lee Jones, B.B. King and Christina Aguilera. He also performed in such films as The Last Waltz and Blues Brothers 2000, and pursued a successful two-decade songwriting partnership with legendary tunesmith Doc Pomus.

Dr. John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, and won the most recent of his six GRAMMY® Awards when 2012's Locked Down was voted that year's Best Blues Album.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tabby Thomas has passed - Our thoughts are with his family and friends (by Chelsea Brasted)

Tabby Thomas, the renowned Baton Rouge blues guitarist, died early Jan. 1, 2014, just shy of his 85th birthday, according to a source close to the family. Thomas was perhaps best known for having opened Tabby's Blues Box, a ramshackle room on North Boulevard that was a haven for blues lovers across the world. Thomas was born Ernest J. Thomas on Jan. 5, 1929 in Old South Baton Rouge, where he grew up on Mary Street. He quickly became known as Tabby for his catlike reflexes on McKinley High School's football team. Thomas served with the Air Force following his graduation from McKinley, but music had always been on his mind since singing with the church choir at St. Lukes. While in California with the Air Force, he entered and won a talent competition with KSAN radio in 1952. That first success stuck with him, and it ignited a lifelong dedication to his craft. After his first few records didn't sell well, Thomas returned home to Baton Rouge where he began recording new tracks with Excello Records' J.D. Miller in Crowley and met Jocelyn Marie Johnson, who became his wife. Thomas worked various jobs to supplement his income to provide a stable lifestyle for his family, including a tenure with Ciba Geigy, where he worked as a union steward. In 1978, Thomas found a rundown building at 1314 North Boulevard and, with the help of his cousin, Woodrow Vaughn, and his two sons, Thomas opened Tabby's Blues Box a year later. "It was during the time when disco had pretty much dried up all the gigs for south Louisiana blues musicians. They didn't have any place to play. My dad had the idea for it to be like a blues social club, and that's what it became," said Chris Thomas King, one of Thomas' sons and himself a successful musician, in an interview earlier this year. Tabby's Blues Box quickly became the go-to spot for blues lovers looking for the real deal, old-fashioned blues room. "Just about everybody came through Tabby's," Thomas said in an October interview. "I had a lot of friends I had met when I was touring all over Europe in places and they start coming by to see me. It made the place famous. Everybody knew Tabby's Blues Box." But its reputation couldn't save it, and the Blues Box closed by 2000 with the construction of the North Boulevard overpass. Thomas moved the club to a location on Lafayette Street, but it never caught on the way the old location did. It closed for good in 2004 following a stroke Thomas had while preparing to go on stage. "It's a very sad day. The legendary Baton Rouge bluesman, husband, father, and friend Tabby Thomas passed away this morning. He's the father of Chris Thomas King," wrote Rueben Williams, Thomas' former manager, on Facebook. "He was an inspiration to so many and the reason for a lot of people's start including Tab Benoit, Troy Turner, his son Chris's and many others. He left us with great Louisiana music and unbelievable stories." Funeral and visitation arrangements were not immediately available.  

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

St.Louis Blues - Sidney Bechet

Sidney Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. He was one of the first important soloists in jazz (beating cornetist and trumpeter Louis Armstrong to the recording studio by several months and later playing duets with Armstrong), and was perhaps the first notable jazz saxophonist. Forceful delivery, well-constructed improvisations, and a distinctive, wide vibrato characterized Bechet's playing. Bechet's erratic temperament hampered his career, however, and not until the late 1940s did he earn wide acclaim. Bechet was born in New Orleans in 1897 to a middle-class Creole of color family. Sidney's older brother Leonard Bechet (1877–1952) was a part-time trombonist and bandleader. Sidney Bechet quickly learned to play several musical instruments kept around the house, mostly by teaching himself; he soon decided to specialize in clarinet. At the age of six, Sidney started playing along with his brother's band at a family birthday party, debuting his talents to acclaim. Later in his youth, Bechet studied with such renowned Creole clarinetists as Lorenzo Tio, "Big Eye" Louis Nelson Delisle, and George Baquet. Soon after, Bechet began to play in many New Orleans ensembles, improvising with what was "acceptable" for jazz at that time (obbligatos, with scales and arpeggios, and "variating" the melody). These ensembles included parade work with Henry Allen's celebrated Brass Band, the Olympia Orchestra, and John Robichaux's "genteel" dance orchestra. In 1911-1912, Bechet performed with Bunk Johnson in the Eagle Band of New Orleans, and in 1913-1914, with King Oliver in the Olympia Band. Although Bechet spent his childhood and adolescence in New Orleans, from 1914 to 1917 he was touring and traveling, going as far north as Chicago, and frequently teaming up with Freddie Keppard, another notable Creole musician. In the spring of 1919, Bechet traveled to New York, where he joined Will Marion Cook's Syncopated Orchestra. Soon after, the orchestra journeyed to Europe where, almost immediately upon arrival, they performed at the Royal Philharmonic Hall in London. The group was warmly received, and Bechet was especially popular, attracting attention near and far. While in London, Bechet discovered the straight soprano saxophone, and quickly developed a style quite unlike his warm, reedy clarinet tone. His saxophone sound could be described as "emotional", "reckless", and "large". He would often use a very broad vibrato, similar to what was common for some New Orleans clarinetists at the time. After being convicted of assaulting a woman, Bechet was imprisoned in London from September 13 to 26, 1922. He was deported back to the United States, leaving Southampton on November 3 and arriving in New York on November 13, 1922. On July 30, 1923, he began recording; it is some of his earliest surviving studio work. The session was led by Clarence Williams, a pianist and songwriter, better known at that time for his music publishing and record producing. Bechet recorded "Wild Cat Blues" and "Kansas City Man Blues". "Wild Cat Blues" is in a multi-thematic ragtime tradition, with four themes, at sixteen bars each, and "Kansas City Man Blues" is a genuine 12-bar blues. Bechet interpreted and played each uniquely, and with outstanding creativity and innovation for the time. On September 15, 1925, Bechet and other members of the Revue Nègre, including Josephine Baker, sailed to Europe, arriving at Cherbourg, France, on September 22. The revue opened at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, on October 2. Bechet toured Europe with various bands, reaching as far as Russia in mid-1926. In 1928, he led his own small band at the famous Bricktop's Club in Montmartre, Paris. Bechet was jailed in Paris when a woman passer-by was wounded during a shoot-out. The most common version of the story, as related in Ken Burns's jazz documentary, reports that the initial shoot-out started when another musician/producer told Bechet that he was playing the wrong chord. Bechet challenged the man to a duel. Other sources assert that Bechet was essentially ambushed by a rival musician. After his release, Bechet was deported to New York. Having arrived right after the stock-market crash of 1929, Bechet joined Noble Sissle’s orchestra. They returned to Europe to tour in Berlin, Germany and Russia. In 1932, Bechet returned to New York City to lead a band with trumpeter Tommy Ladnier. The band, consisting of six members, performed at the Savoy Ballroom. He went on to play with Lorenzo Tio, and also got to know Roy Eldridge, another trumpeter. Over time Bechet had increasing difficulty finding musical gigs; he eventually started a tailor shop with Ladnier. During this time, they were visited by various musicians, and played in the back of their shop. Throughout the 1940s, Bechet played in several bands, but his financial situation did not change until the end of that decade. By the end of the 1940s, Bechet tired of struggling to make music in the United States. His contract with Jazz Limited, a Chicago-based record label, was limiting the events where he could perform, for instance excluding the 1948 Festival of Europe in Nice. He believed that the jazz scene in the US had little left to offer him and that was getting stale. Bechet relocated to France in 1950 after performing as a soloist at the Paris Jazz Fair. His performance at the fair resulted in a surge in his popularity in France. After that, Bechet had little problem finding well-paid work in France. In 1951, Bechet married Elisabeth Ziegler in Antibes, France. In 1953, he signed a recording contract with French Vogue, which lasted for the rest of his life. He recorded many hit tunes, including "Les Oignons", "Promenade aux Champ Elysees," and the international hit "Petite Fleur". He also composed a classical ballet score in the late Romantic style of Tchaikovsky, called La Nuit est sorcière (The Night Is a Witch). Existentialists in France called him "le dieu".[citation needed] Bechet died in Paris from lung cancer on May 14, 1959 on his sixty-second birthday. Shortly before his death, he dictated his poetic autobiography, Treat It Gentle.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Swamp People'® CD celebrates music/culture of Deep Delta


Collection from the heart of alligator country
featuresthe Neville Brothers, Hank Williams, Jerry Reed,
Tony Joe White, Buckwheat Zydeco, Zachary Richard, 
 Bobby Charles and introducing Steel Bill
Thirteen-song set, due out May 21 on Rounder Records
through Concord Music Group, in partnership with HISTORY®,
captures the spirit of the top-rated series of the same name
NEW ORLEANS, La. — The storied backcountry of southern Louisiana is a place of rich history and fascinating cultural lineage. Its inhabitants — the Cajuns and their “Swamp People” brethren — are part of a unique tradition that dates back some three centuries to the immigration of Acadian refugees. In the 21st century, the region boasts not only a flavorful cuisine, distinctive music and a vastly vibrant culture, but also a deep and reverent appreciation for the land that continues to provide these people with refuge and a way of life.
Rounder Records, a division of Concord Music Group, has partnered with HISTORY® to celebrate that legacy with Swamp People®, a 13-song compilation that showcases the music of current and past masters whose styles and sensibilities are rooted in this region.  Set for release on May 21, Swamp People®, which serves as an ideal companion piece to the Cajun-flavored series, features the music of the Neville Brothers, Tony Joe White, Buckwheat Zydeco, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, Hank Williams, Beausoleil with Michael Doucet and several others. Many of the tracks have been culled from Rounder’s vast catalog of southern Louisiana music and the title track, which leads off the set, is a new song written specifically for Swamp People® by vocalist Steel Bill, aka Billy Joe Tharpe, a native of Livingston Parish, Louisiana, who could best be described as a country rapper. The track is a favorite of Troy Landry, the inimitable, gator-hunting lead from the Swamp People® TV series.
“There are so many great songs about alligator hunting and swamp life, hit records that reach back 50 years and more recent material from the Rounder catalog,” says Scott Billington, Grammy®-winning producer, Vice President of A&R at Rounder and producer of Swamp People® (who also plays harmonica on Steel Bill’s title track). “I love this music and this culture, and I’ve spent a great part of my life in the region. These joyful, wonderful songs are the perfect complement to the show, and, I think Swamp People® fans will be delighted.”
Executive Producer Pete Elkins agrees: "The joie de vivre of the Swamp People® is present in their lifestyle, food and music. Rounder Records and the entire Concord Music team, have captured the spirit and joy of swampers everywhere in this amazing collection of music.”  
Now in its fourth season, Swamp People follows the current generation of the Landry family and their contemporaries, who have been part of the region for generations and have made their living by carrying on their ancestors’ trades and traditions of hunting alligators and living off the swamp’s bountiful resources, while at the same time giving back to the swampland they call home.
Swamp People   Steel Bill
Amos Moses    Jerry Reed
Zydeco La Louisianne   Buckwheat Zydeco
Polk Salad Annie   Tony Joe White
French Jig    Amanda Shaw
Fire on the Bayou   The Neville Brothers
What’s in that Bayou  Charles Ardoin
Kolinda    BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet
Jambalaya (On the Bayou)   Hank Williams
Cocodrie    Zachary Richard
Crawfish Walk    Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone
Cajun Saturday Night    D.L. Menard
See You Later, Alligator   Bobby Charles