Cold Winds Outside, Hot Jazz Inside!

When we hit New Orleans this past January it was 32 degrees and very windy! The Mississippi encourages bitter winds through the Quarter and creates a somewhat miserable environment. But step inside any music venue and the notes and vocals keep you warm as toast! The block and a half to Fritzel’s was a difficult trek but once inside we were greeted with hugs and kisses and a few welcomed hot toddies—we were back!

The weather did not cooperate at all for the next 12 days but all the musicians made up for the lack of warmth in the air. Fritzel’s is always our go-to place and Richard Scott (p) has a solo performance there most afternoons. It is always a delight to enjoy his many original tunes and standard classic arrangements.

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The late afternoon band had Colin Myers (tb), Zach Lange (tp), Ellis Dyson (bj), Julie Schexnayder (bs) and Dizzy Incirlioglu (wash) all in good form to get our visit started on the right foot. The next band featured Jamil Sharif (tp), Leslie Martin (p), Bryan Besse (dr), Chuck Brackman (bs) and Connor Stewart (alto). We almost made it every night after other venues but missed one very chilly and crowded Saturday. Overall we had the chance to enjoy:

Trumpet: Kevin Clark, Doyle Cooper, Dwayne Burns, Catie Rodgers
Clarinet/Reeds: Tom Fischer, Owen Callahan, Jory Dexter Woodis
Trombone: Dave Ruffner
Piano: John Royen, Z2, Kris Tokarski, Steve Detroy
Drums: Josh “Jams” Marotta, Mike Voelker, Cody Coulon, Tanner Gus
Bass: Jim Markway, Sam Lobely, Smitti Supab, Ben Fox
Banjo/Guitar: Chuck Brackman, Lee Floyd
Sousaphone: Matt Perrine

International trumpeter Konstantin Gevondyan (who TST columnist Bill Hoffman saw in New York and mentioned in his February column) also sat in on a few sets with Lee Floyd. Mike Fulton (tp) joined in with the “Krewe of Monday Night Magic” that showcased Richard Scott (p), Catie Rodgers (tp), Ben Fox (bs), and Bryan Bess (dr) one evening.

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Visiting from Sweden, Jens “Jesse” Lindgren (tb) was winding up a month long visit himself but I was glad to catch a few nights with him. We hadn’t seen him for several years, evidently always missing him by a day or two.

Monty Banks (p/v) stops in occasionally too after his usual gig at the delectable restaurant, Irene’s. He is an ebullient entertainer and has a perpetual smile!

Tucsonan Jim Wilson and his trombone in the Krewe of Chewbacchus

The Palm Court bands are always superb and two separate parades passed by on the weekends—the Sci-Fi oriented Krewe of Chewbacchus and the politically satirical Krewe du Vieux. A friend of ours was in the Chewbacchus parade and ran up to the window at Palm Court to let us know his marching band, Pair-O-Dice, was going past. Evenings at the Palm Court are always filled with terrific line-ups and during the course of our stay we got to see many favorites. Pete Siers (dr) was in from Ann Arbor for just a few days and other musicians included:

Trumpet: Gregg Stafford, Duke Heitger, Will Smith, Mark Braud, Kevin Louis
Clarinet/Reeds: James Evans, Christian Wither, Louis Ford, Bruce Brackman, Tom Fischer, Connor Stewart
Trombone: Robert Harris, Charlie Halloran, Fred Lonzo, Stephan
Tenney, Craig Klein
Piano: Lars Edegran, Steve Pistorious, Meghan Swartz, Mari Watanabe
Drums: Barnaby Gold, Joey Lastie, Herlin Riley, Aron Lambert, Shannon Powell, Glen Finister Andrews
Bass: Mitchell Player, Taylor Kent, Richard Moten, Mark Brooks, Ed Wise
Vocals: Yolanda Robinson

Banu Gibson stopped in one night with some friends and I got to give her a hug and kiss before the Jazz Fest in April. Banu heads the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp with Leslie Cooper (Doyle’s mother) and they are having two separate camps this June because of the many requests for attendance. The adult students come from around the world and scholarships are available to those needing assistance.


Several other evenings included a visit with artist extraordinaire Emilie Rhys and as always, she has her sketch pad in hand to capture the moment in time for the performing musicians.

The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park offers performances and classes throughout the week. We attended one with Seva Venet (bj), Park Ranger Kerry Lewis (tuba) and Detroit Brooks (gtr) who explained the origin of the word “ragtime”—ragging a tune was syncopating it. Seva took us through some of the Buddy Boldon iconic grooves that signified the genre.

The New Orleans National Historical park with Seva Venet (gtr), Kerry Lewis (tuba) and Detroit Brooks (gtr)

Another Park performance featured Tom Hook (p), Wendell Brunious (tp) and Karl Budo (dr) noting that Al Hirt gained his recognition from the hit piece—Java—that Allen Toussaint wrote for Jumbo. Wendell, Kevin Clark and Doyle Cooper will have a set at the upcoming Jazz Fest in April paying tribute to Al “Jumbo” Hirt. Caroline Brunious and Ranger Kerry Lewis also attended part of the session.

In November I became aware of a home for sale only a half block from the Palm Court. The homes in the Quarter are very unassuming from the frontage on the street, it is hard to tell what fabulous courtyards, guest houses, pools, or gardens are beyond those walls. This particular home was advertised because it was the former home of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who maintained the residence from 2007 to about 2016. Brad Pitt was involved in a controversial foundation that began a construction project to build affordable houses in the lower 9th ward after Katrina. They lived in the 7700 sq.ft. multi-story home at that time. The home had also been a studio for the recording engineer and studio owner Cosimo Matassa in years prior. Matassa was an important figure in the origins of rock and roll. The property then had several subsequent owners and was now up for auction. I loved the winding staircase that was a feature of the home.

I was surprised I had an opportunity to visit the home. Juliet and Tim Laughlin had a friend that recently won the bid at the auction and was having an open house. It is always fun to see how a home built in the 1800s has been remodeled and updated. The beautiful courtyard with old-vine foliage was magnificent and so charming. The new owner was a gracious host and we got to see the rooms that were featured in the on-line advertising complete with Jolie-Pitt paraphernalia! This multi-million dollar residence is full of history and so epitomizes the fascinating architecture associated with the French Quarter.

Court of Two Sisters with Steve Braun (bs), Tim Laughlin (cl) and Skip Phipps (gtr)

A nice lunch at The Court of Two Sisters had Tim Laughlin (cl), Steve Braun (bs) and Skip Phipps (gtr) providing the entertainment for their famous five hour brunch. Juliet Laughlin joined us for a lovely start to another busy day and we appreciated being able to spend time with both of them this visit.

The DUKES of Dixieland are celebrating 50 years of traditional New Orleans jazz in the city and around the world! With about 40 past and current members, the DUKES have been around since 1974. The present band is Ben Redwine (reeds), Matt Perrone (tp), David Mahoney (dr), Ellis Seiberling (tb), Eduardo Tozzatto (p) and Jim Greene (bs). We visited the Natchez one evening for only about an hour to hear them at their home base. John Mahoney (tb) subbed for Ellis and Ben Fox (bs) for Jim Greene but the band was terrific playing to a full boatload of hungry visitors eagerly dining on Creole favorites.

The DUKES of Dixieland featuring Eduardo Tozzatto (p), John Mahoney (tb), Ben
Fox (bs), Matt Perrone (tp), Dave Mahoney (dr) and Ben Redwine (cl)

We left before the steamboat sailed as the captain wasn’t sure they would leave the dock because of the dense fog. It was a real treat to not only be back on the completely remodeled Natchez, but to fantasize about times past. A dear friend took us to dinner at Rebirth in the warehouse district which had the most amazing stuffed shrimps and their glazed double cut pork chop was outstanding. There are many wonderful restaurants in that area but we don’t usually get out to that neighborhood often. We may have to make a special effort to visit Rebirth again!

The Lena Prima Band with Justin Pardue (tb), Thad Scott (sax), Lena Prima (v), Tim Fahey (gtr)

An evening at the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone had Leslie Martin (p) in a solo gig to a noisy crowd but as always he is an enjoyable treat. Lena Prima’s band plays on Thursdays and Saturdays and when the “happy hour” crowd thinned out we grabbed front row seats alongside Nelson, their tech supervisor. Lena’s shows are always entertaining and with Tim Fahey (gtr), Josh Paxton (p), Justin Pardue (tb), Clayton Hopkins (dr) and Thad Scott (sax), we had three hours of excellent music. Lena does a few numbers in tribute to her famous father, Louis, and those are my favorites but she is a versatile vocalist delving into several contemporary numbers with a passion. We had a few friends with us and it is always a pleasure to introduce her to other enthusiasts. They also enjoyed a ride on the revolving Carousel itself and were lucky to grab a few seats before the main show.

The 21st Amendment with Jory Dexter Woodis (cl) and Joe Kennedy (p)

Following a lunch at Acme Oyster Bar, the 21st Amendment is a little club just across the street. Joe Kennedy (p) and Jory Dexter Woodis (cl) had a four hour gig at this small but well-appointed venue. They enjoy playing together and we especially enjoy them together too!

A brief stop at Café Beignet had Dave Ruffner (tb), Zach Wiggins (p), and Fred Staehle (dr) defying any chilly winds and bringing some more hot jazz to the open courtyard. With the sun peeking in a bit now and then it was a lovely start to another music-filled day.

The day before our departure was beautiful and sunny with barely a cloud in the sky. It was a fitting reminder of how the weather is such a part of the experiences. Flitting in and out of venues to quickly get from one place to the next can be trying at times and I miss the open doors and windows welcoming strollers to step inside. But it will be that way again soon and probably too warm in April for the eight day Fest. Well, I’ll enjoy it cold, rainy, muggy, hot, windy, whatever—it is New Orleans and to borrow a line from one of Richard Scott’s original tunes—I don’t want to miss a minute of it!!

After 48-1/2 years, Shelly Gallichio is a retired Real Estate Associate Broker in Tucson, Arizona and despite growing up in Chicago, fell in love with the clarinet and the New Orleans sound at the age of three—she intends to spend the next 48-1/2 years seeking that sound! Reach her at [email protected]

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