Our October in New Orleans

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PRESERVATION HALL LEGACY AWARDS

We attended the Preservation Hall Second Annual Legacy Awards held at the Ace Hotel in the Central Business District—this was originally scheduled for September 5th and it was postponed to October 17th—perfect timing for our visit. The musicians inducted as Master Practitioners are acknowledged for their immense cultural impact in the jazz community. The program provides a critical lifeline to elder musicians in the New Orleans community with direct financial stipends and ongoing support.

It was an absolute thrill for me to be present as the honorees were Lester Caliste (tb), Lars Edegran (p, gtr, bj, +), and Orange Kellin (cl)—all musicians we know and enjoy.

Mr. Caliste, a New Orleans native, was inspired by the big band sound of the Stan Kenton orchestra and started on the trombone at the age of 11. He was part of both the Harold Dejan and Milton Batiste bands in the ’60s and first performed with Preservation Hall in 1968 with the Olympia Brass Band on Mardi Gras Day. After the performance, Allan Jaffe (Preservation Hall co-founder) led the band through the Quarter, a parade which is vividly and fondly remembered.

After a stint in the Navy, he returned to New Orleans for additional collaborations and recordings. He toured internationally with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band while maintaining a full time position with the Postal Service.

When the Post Office switched his work hours to the evenings, he was able to play fewer nightly gigs but able to do more studio work. Working with Patti LaBelle, Glen Campbell, or Earl King, recordings became a strong focus in the ’70s. Well into the ’80s, Mr. Caliste continued performing on a number of jazz recordings and toured internationally with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the mid-’90s. After Katrina, he moved to Texas for five years before returning to New Orleans.

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Mr. Edegran was born in Sweden and was exposed to American blues and jazz while beginning piano lessons at the age of seven. Later he formed his own jazz band which included fellow Swedish musician Orange Kellin, the 3rd honoree. While at university in Stockholm, Lars began traveling around Europe and eventually met the owner of a Jazz Record Mart music store who offered him a job in Chicago. Lars started working there in 1965 and a few months later hitchhiked to New Orleans with a group of other European musicians, arriving just before Hurricane Betsy. While peeking in the gate at the Hall, he was invited to sit in and play by co-founder Allan Jaffe. As a multi-instrumentalist, he began playing in a number of local brass bands.

A position at the Hogan Jazz Archive inspired him to learn more about traditional jazz and ragtime and he co-founded the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra with Orange Kellin. He was hired to complete the musical arrangements for the soundtrack to Louis Malle’s 1978 Pretty Baby, which was later nominated for an Academy Award. He also co-wrote and/or arranged (with Orange Kellin) much of the music for the production of One Mo’ Time, first performed in New Orleans followed by a 1979 off-Broadway opening in New York. While in New York for two years, he took classes at Juilliard in music theory and counterpoint. He began studying to learn more about arranging for jazz.

He continues to produce for GHB Records and a wide range of musicians, while also touring with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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Clarinetist Orjan “Orange” Kellin was also born in Sweden and grew up in Stockholm. His love of the clarinet began with the film The Benny Goodman Story (1956) and the following year he received a clarinet as a Christmas present. He discovered pre-war jazz on the radio and through records, particularly recordings from local bands in New Orleans. He co-founded a local jazz band in 1961 (with Lars Edegran) and while studying at university in Stockholm, decided to travel to New Orleans. After scrimping and saving for the ticket, he traveled to Gothenburg the night before his departure to play in a jazz club. The featured headliner was Albert Nicholas, the well-known New Orleans clarinetist. It was a wonderful start to Orange’s travel destination. The next morning, he and his friend Per (in America, they were often referred to as Pear & Orange) began their journey arriving in New York in October of 1966. Then they traveled to North Carolina to meet Leonard Bracket, a record producer who was in prior correspondence with them, and the three drove to New Orleans.

Although planning to stay only a few months, Orange began getting gigs and recording sessions and “just never went back.” After renting several places in the Quarter, he later bought one of the buildings and has lived there ever since.

As mentioned earlier, he co-founded the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra which performed at the first Newport Jazz Festival where Orange met Mahalia Jackson and Louis Armstrong—the Ragtime Orchestra would go on to play at Newport nearly every year that followed.

In the late 70s, he also performed on the soundtrack to the 1978 film Pretty Baby and served as musical director and co-arranger (with Lars Edegran) for One Mo’ Time which remains as the second longest running off-Broadway show to date. In the 1980s, Orange appeared with the show during its long and successful run in London’s West End and in 2002 the production was revived and restaged on Broadway.

A gifted clarinetist, Orange’s dedication to New Orleans music has made him an ambassador of the genre to the world.

Various musicians performed during the Awards Presentation including Will Smith (tp), Calvin Johnson (sx), David Harris (tb), Mari Watanabe (p), Mitchell Player (bs), and Aaron Lambert (dr). Ben Jaffe spoke of each awardee’s influence on his young life “growing up at Preservation Hall.” When Ben’s parents (Allan and Sandra) established Preservation Hall in 1961, it was the first fully integrated music venue in New Orleans.

Ben founded the Preservation Hall Foundation in 2011 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina with the mission to “Protect, Preserve and Perpetuate the musical community, heritage and traditions of New Orleans” through education, outreach, collaboration, performance and community support.

Yes, Preservation Hall has changed from when a patron could pay but a few dollars to spend the entire evening working their way to the front seats and maybe even get to sit on the pillows just a few inches from the performers.

Yes, it is more expensive. Yes, those front seats and pillows now command a premium. Yes, the sets are less than one hour and admission prices are per set. Yes, there is “different” music played after midnight. BUT it is still open and exists on hallowed ground—revered performers both past and present are sensed throughout the small but precious venue. It is a thrill to behold and touch and to peer through the wrought iron gates where I can still “see” Sandra Jaffe or her sister Resa Lambert collecting admissions. It is a treasure—may it live forever.

See AlsoLars Edegran, Orange Kellin, and Lester Caliste honored by Preservation Hall

BBs STAGE DOOR CANTEEN

What a fun musical—Dames At Sea—directed by Banu Gibson showing at BB’s Stage Door Canteen at the National WWII Museum in the Warehouse District.

After reading Lew Shaw’s column in the October issue preview, I immediately contacted the Canteen and was able to secure tickets to the opening night. I was thrilled that this event coincided with our visit and the evening was delightful. The story is about a naïve chorus girl from Utah that arrives in New York City by bus with a suitcase containing not much more than a pair of tap shoes. She steps into a role on Broadway to become a star before nightfall. This is the show that brought stardom for Bernadette Peters who did just that in her rise to fame when she was 20 years old.Our October in New Orleans

The dancers were enthusiastic and without any apparent opening night jitters. The Canteen was full and the dinner enjoyable. The star this evening was 17 year old Amelia Jacquat who did her best to emulate Ms. Peters in expressive detail. It occurred to me that these 1930s style Busby Berkeley-style musicals had such a quick girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-becomes-star, girl-gets-boy premise is that it gave hope to a nation between wars during the Great Depression. With a “you too can wake up tomorrow morning and fulfill your dreams by tomorrow night” attitude, it strengthened spirits and morale and kept the daily struggles from becoming overwhelming.

Our October in New Orleans
The cast of BB’s Stage Door Canteen production of Dames At Sea with director Banu Gibson sixth from left. (photo by Ken Arnold)

The Canteen (supported by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation) has Sinatra Wednesdays; Dine & Dance days with the Victory Swing Orchestra; the Victory Belles vocal trio; Monday Night Happy Hour Bob Hope Film Festivals; Boogie Woogie Piano nights; Christmas Belles & Holiday favorites; a Teddy Bear Tea for children; a Cabaret & Cocktails evening; a Rat Pack tribute planned for June and coming in March the Music of Louis Prima: Jump, Jive and Wail!

Several years ago we saw the Tom Hook inspired version of Jump, Jive and Wail at the Canteen and I am glad that it (or a similar rendition) will be shown on the weekends from March 22 through April 7, 2019. If you are in town, be sure to make a date to see this fun tribute to a unique New Orleans talent.

MUSEUM UPDATE

Be sure to check out these various musically inspired offerings during your visit to New Orleans and the acclaimed WWII Museum.

As a follow-up to the September column about the French Quarter Museums, we recently toured five of the 13 venues in order to receive our complimentary dessert at Brennan’s Tableau restaurant. The Cabildo, Presbytre, and 1850 House all surround the Square and featured an exhibit about Napoleon; a celebration for the New Orleans tricentennial; a Katrina exhibit focusing on rescue, rebuilding and renewal; a Mardi Gras – It’s Carnival Time display highlighting costumes and customs; a museum store with exhibit-related merchandise from the various venues in addition to handmade art, jewelry, pottery and crafts by local artists.

The Jazz Museum at the Old US Mint has added a large Professor Longhair exhibit celebrating the centennial of his birth.

The Pharmacy Museum proved to be one of the most interesting venues. America’s first licensed pharmacist, Louis Dufilho, Jr., constructed his drug store in 1823 and resided in the classic creole townhouse on site—a botanical garden supplied the medicinal herbs for his pharmacy practice. Floor to ceiling shelves display the handmade apothecary jars containing various drugs, herbs, chemicals. and voodoo powders. Many medical implements with explanations of their use were in numerous cases together with a “leech jar” containing a treatment for high blood pressure. An 1855 Italian marble soda fountain dispensing sodas and phosphates represented the time when the corner drug store became a social center of the neighborhood.

The museum promotion, “The French Quarter is the Key to the City,” is available through the end of the year—and we certainly enjoyed our lunch and dessert at Tableau.

FRITZEL’S 49TH ANNIVERSARY

Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub (733 Bourbon near St. Ann) celebrated its 49th anniversary on October 16th with Tom Fischer (cl), Brad Truby (bs), Richard Scott (p), and Gerald French (dr). This well-worn venue is a must visit and although loud and raucous can only be described as fun. Manager Kate Fulton and caterer Ploumi Karida served up a buffet of homemade Greek appetizers, entrees, and desserts in the back patio. It was a delicious array and the many patrons from the US, Europe, Australia, Japan, and who knows where else, enjoyed the entire evening. I hope Kate is starting to plan for the 50th anniversary next year—it should be a golden celebration! Our October in New Orleans

NICKEL-A-DANCE:

The Maison on Frenchman hosted the annual Nickel-A-Dance Series on October 14th with Thais Clark (v) and her JAZZsters: Don Vappie (gtr), Wendell Brunious (tp), Christian Winther (sx), Chuck Chapman (p), Richard Moten (bs), and Troy Davis (dr). These community service events are free to the public and took place each Sunday in October. This delightful experience is attended by local dancers and traditional jazz music lovers living or visiting in the area. The three hour performance is first rate and provides a wonderful time spent with friends and family.

Our October in New Orleans
Thais Clark (v) and her JAZZsters: Don Vappie (gtr), Wendell Brunious (tp), Christian Winther (sx), Chuck Chapman (p), Richard Moten (bs), and Troy Davis (dr).

 

After 48-1/2 years Shelly Gallichio is a retired Real Estate Associate Broker living in Tucson, Arizona who 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!


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