“Longevity among jazz groups is a surprisingly rare commodity. With relatively few exceptions, a run of a few years, at most, is standard; for a collective of jazz musicians to stick together for a decade or more is almost unheard of. That puts Fourplay, who celebrates their 25th anniversary this year, in a league of their own. Since 1990, bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Bob James, guitarist Chuck Loeb (who joined five years ago) and drummer Harvey Mason have continued to explore together, their efforts resulting in what All Music Guide called one of “the most intuitive, forward-thinking and focused groups in modern jazz.” “
Fourplay is the only music group in history recognised by the U.S. Congress with a Congressional Record, acknowledging their importance to the music industry. Although it took me some time to get used to the band without Larry Carlton (as it took some time to get used to the band without Lee Ritenour before), I still consider them to be one of the best smooth jazz bands of all time. As a huge fan of Nathan East (who joined TOTO a few years back) I followed the band closely for many years. As a nice touch, both Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton are featured on the Silver album as guest artists.
Among many other things I especially enjoyed the variety of street music in New Orleans during my recent trip. There are many bands playing day and night on almost every corner in the French Quarter, offering anything from traditional Blues and New Orleans Jazz to modern interpretations of pop music. The street bands seem to move around, sometimes joining each other and supporting local businesses e.g. by supporting them in fashion shows etc.
Street Music in New Orleans – 1
Street Music in New Orleans – 2
Street Music in New Orleans – 3
Street Music in New Orleans – 4
Street Music in New Orleans – 5
Street Music in New Orleans – 6
Street Music in New Orleans – 7
Second Hand Street Band
One band stood out in particular, the Second Hand Street Band. I liked them a lot, since they really motivated the crowd to stay, dance and sing along. The band is very versatile, offering classic tunes and modern pop songs with a comic twist. There are many videos on Youtube, so check them out.
If you are more interested in the roots of Jazz, check out the Preservation Hall. They are dedicated to preserving the original artform of New Orleans Jazz, offering 3-4 shows per day with changing lineup. Also they have a Preservation Hall Jazz Band, kind of the venue’s house band.
“New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture.”
Although kind of a tourist trap, the Preservation Hall provides a unique experience. A 45 minute show costs around $ 20 and is well worth the money. The hall is pretty basic. There are just very few chairs, no bar, no restroom, to lighting or sound equipment. It’s all acoustic since it is meant to be as it once was in the old days. I went there on December 25 2015 and saw “The Joint Chiefs of Jazz” with Frank Oxley.
I spent a few days in New Orleans over Christmas in 2015 and explored the Birthplace of Jazz. Even though December seems to be the coolest month of the year, it was extremely sticky and humid at 26°C (78°F). During the time there it was cloudy every day and at some times you couldn’t see more than 50m due to the thick fog hanging over the city. I might have enjoyed the city more with a few sunny days, although it might have been even more sticky that way.
Staying at a hotel in the French Quarter allowed for a quick dive into the city’s music and party scene with most of the major attractions close by. There is live jazz and blues music on the street and in almost every club and an abundance of decent restaurants offering mainly creole cuisine.
Here are some impressions from the trip, hopefully catching the mood.
300 Years New Orleans
St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square
Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong statue – Louis Armstrong Park