A new CD by the Danish-Swedish New Orleans Delight, this time with two guest musicians from England. No matter what their nationality is, what they play is genuine New Orleans jazz. What is the secret behind the lasting attraction this music, created more than a century ago on the other side of the Ocean, has for a small but faithful part of today's audiences? What distinguishes it from what is generally considered to be jazz today? These liner notes try to answer these questions.
A little bit of history
and all that jazz.
In the early 1940's the history of jazz took two separate ways that were completely different. Way one was the birth of a new style of jazz, way two was a return to the very beginnings of this music.
At Minton's Playhouse in New York a small group of black musicians (Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, to name just a few) were creating a new style that broke completely with what had been going on before. Take the drums for instance. The bass-drum which had been the heartbeat of the rhythm section was almost completely deserted and replaced by the big cymbal. The bass-drum and snare drum were now only used to mark irregular accents. The relaxation, which was such a remarkable quality of classic jazz, was gone. The new music was nervous with a preference for very fast tempos. Jelly's credo about keeping the melody always going was completely forgotten. Melody? New melodies were based on the chords of the evergreens of the swing era, in my opinion always inferior to the original ones. Try to whistle one after you've heard it once! So they were still improvising on Honeysuckle Rose but now it was named Scrapple From The Apple and Embraceable You had become - believe it or not! - ,Quasimodo. This was not only a means of getting around copyright retribution. Bebop was not a logical evolution, it was more like a revolution. The young revolutionaries formed a closed clique and giving the tunes new titles was a way of keeping intruders out. Hey man, what is it you are playing? What do you mean, man? What song are you playing? The bebop cat looks over the shoulder of the other one and sees pianist Bud Powell entering the place. The song we play? 'In Walked Bud' that's what we're playing. I'm inventing this little story, but the title exists and the story could just as well be true. In short jazz music underwent a drastic change and would never be the same again. Most of the so-called jazz you see on television, hear on radio or read about in newspapers or magazines today descends from that bebop revolution. Most people even seem to think that when we talk about traditional or classic jazz, we are talking about Parker, Gillespie & Company. If we should make a parallel with classical music, it would be like that music started with Hindemith, Boulez or Alan Berg and that Bach, Mozart or Beethoven never existed!
At the same time another movement took place elsewhere, initially not originated among musicians. A group of jazz collectors and connoisseurs, among them a certain Bill Russell, were looking for the roots of their favourite music. With the coming of the swing era and the immense popularity of the big bands, the music of New Orleans was almost completely forgotten. When Louis Armstrong, in an interview, dropped the name of Bunk Johnson as one of his early influences, the search for this mysterious figure began. He was found in New Iberia, working as a truck driver in the rice fields. Bunk had retired there after that terrible night in Rayne in November 1931 where his bandleader at that time, Evan Thomas, was murdered on the bandstand and Bunk's cornet was wrecked beyond repair. Soon after that incident Bunk had lost his teeth and he thought his trumpet playing days were over. Now and then he played saxophone or tuba with the Banner Band in New Iberia. In a correspondence with Bill Russell Bunk said he would be able to play trumpet again if he could have a new horn and a set of new teeth. The money for a new horn and new denture (made by Leonard Bechet, Sidney's brother) was collected and Bunk was going to make one of the most remarkable comebacks in jazz history. All he needed was a band to play with. Looking for the right musicians in New Orleans, they found out that the clarinet player they had wanted, Big Eye Louis Nelson, was too ill to play. Bunk then remembered the clarinet player he had been with in that same Evan Thomas band, the little guy who had got all Thomas' blood over him, George Stewart he thought the name was. Eventually it was George LEWIS he meant. George brought along trombone player Jim Robinson. Well, the rest is history, a history you all know. Bunk, not very grateful, called the New Orleans guys his emergency band although everyone agrees now that he made his best recordings with them.
When Bill Russell and company had been looking for the roots of jazz, the music played at the beginning of the century, what they actually found was the music of New Orleans of the early forties! Although the world had forgotten about New Orleans jazz, right there in the Crescent City the music had been going on at parades, in the marching bands, and at the dance halls of the city, and, like every living art, it had evolved. It had become much looser, more swinging. Bunk himself had one foot in the past, with a thorough knowledge of the Red back book of ragtime and one foot in the present, willing to play the hits of the day. His last recording (1947) made with a bunch of hand-picked New York based jazz musicians, shows this perfectly. For a while the Bunk Johnson (emergency) band was the talk of the jazz world. They even made New York! When Bunk left the band, it was taken over by that little, frail clarinet player who later on became the most influential (except maybe for Benny Goodman) clarinet player in jazz history.. This little part of jazz history was later called the New Orleans revival although in its city of birth the music had never died. It was just the rest of the world that again became aware of that music in those early forties. Locally the music had evolved but the main characteristics had remained: respect for the melody, relaxation, tempos suited for dancing and the bass-drum was still the heart of the rhythm section. In fact I think - and this is a very personal opinion - that one could find more parallels between New Orleans jazz and Country & Western music than between New Orleans jazz and bebop!
It's an interesting fact that while all this was going on in
the US of A, on the other side of the Ocean most musicians
on this new CD were born!
The jazz world had become divided between the old music and the new style, which we now see as the beginning of Modern Jazz. Some writers, like Hughes Panassié in France, claimed that bebop was simply NOT JAZZ because it lacked all the qualities the earlier jazz styles had. George Buck goes even one step further: Do I like modern jazz? Of course I do! I love Eddie Condon!. And what about Count Basie, Duke Ellington? That's not jazz, that's swing and all what came after that is Progressive!. It would be easier if the rest of the world had accepted one of these definitions. As it is now, what we hear on most so-called jazz festivals around the world - fortunately with a few exceptions - is a far cry from what jazz originally meant.
In the late fifties several things happened that could be seen as a preamble to what we call the second revival. In 1957 Samuel B.Charters published his book Jazz: New Orleans 1885-1957 - An Index to the Negro Musicians of New Orleans. Hundreds of names, many hitherto unknown, were there with short biographies to arose the curiosity of the avid reader I was, especially the ones who were still alive and maybe musically active in the City. During the forties Bill Russell had recorded Bunk Johnson, George Lewis and a few other bands for his own record label, the mythical American Music. Afterwards about the only one who seems to have enjoyed new recording opportunities was George Lewis. He recorded for a bunch of small independent labels and even for a big one, Verve. It was obvious that George Lewis' claim being probably the last band to play this music, had been true. Two years after Charter's book was published, and maybe partly because of it, Riverside, a well known jazz label, sent a recording team to New Orleans and in a few days recorded enough music to fill 12 LPs, none of them with George Lewis! Around the same time Ken Mills started his own Icon Records trying out different combinations of musicians with great results. The Riversides and Icons were followed by other independent labels like Bill Bissonnette's Jazz Crusade, Barry Martyn's Mono, George Buck's GHB and Richard Ekin's LaCroix to name just a few. All the sudden the music of a lot of hitherto unknown New Orleans musicians had become available to many jazz fans around the world. But this was not all!
When the first New Orleans revival had brought the focus of the world back to the original jazz style, this second revival had much more impact on the local scene in the Cresent City. An art dealer, Larry Borenstein, loved the old music, but didn't want to close his shop on 726 St.Peter Street to go to the dance halls to hear it. Thus he invited musicians to come and play at his art shop. He paid them with the money people had put in the kitty. When these informal events enjoyed more and more public attention it was decided to organise them on a regular base. Again it was a group of jazz enthusiasts who, initially, took care of it: Barbara Reid, Bill Russell (him again!), Bill Edmiston, Ken Mills a.o. They decided to call Borentein's original art-shop PRESERVATION HALL. As Borenstein, being not only a music lover but also a shrewd businessman, had not much confidence in the commercial qualities of these enthusiasts he offered the management of the place to a young couple from Pennsylvania, Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The combination of a sincere love for the music and an astute business instinct, made Jaffe the ideal manager of Preservation Hall. The Hall opened in 1961 and soon every night of the week the music of the older New Orleans veterans was heard at this now legendary place. The Preservation Hall bands started to travel and individual musicians came over to Europe. An international trio of Barry Martyn (England), Luciano Invernizzi (Italy) and Rudi Balliu (Belgium) - yes, this surrealistic crazy country of mine has done something right! - brought musicians from New Orleans to tour in their countries. This meant that the European musicians interested in this jazz style could not only learn from the records. They now could learn from the direct contact with the old masters. Later on regular trips to New Orleans were organised and our musicians could soak up the incredible atmosphere of the Crescent City. Although the New Orleans visitors were treated like royalty over here in Europe, they didn't act like stars. The contrast with the rock stars of the day was enormous! They were happy to be here and ready to advise the local musicians. In the end they became like friends, even like family.
Purists have blamed Preservation Hall for changing the music. After a while a regular format had been created with a couple of ensemble choruses at the beginning of a number followed by solos by almost everyone in the band, including the bass player and the drummer, followed by another pair of ensemble choruses. This was not like the music used to be, the purists claim. Well, in a way they were right, but the change just happened without any intervention by the management. Jaffe never dictated how the music was to be played. The applause of the audience after a solo made that every musician wanted to have his solo
and applause. Another reason was that the old musicians could take a rest while another one was soloing. Let's not forget that Preservation Hall created the opportunity for the older musicians to have a regular well-paid job. Almost all the musicians who worked at the Hall were happy to be there. Those who weren't looked forward to the day they would. Preservation Hall, the management, the musicians and the fans were a big family. The Hall would still be going strong if it wasn't for hurricane Katrina. While the Hall was practically undamaged, the homes of most of the musicians who played there at the time were destroyed. The musicians are now spread over several states, at least one is living in Europe now. Preservation Hall is still active but not on a regular base. For those who were regular visitors the memory of an almost mythic place where one could hear excellent music every day of the week remains
Most of the musicians you'll hear on this CD belong to the last generation who had direct contact with them who created the music. Hopefully they will be the models to be heard in person for generations to come. They have kept the basic principles of the music: keep the melody going all the time, no prima donnas, everyone playing for the benefit of the band, relaxed tempos fit for dancing, in short a music everybody can enjoy. One could ask why this music is not better known and more popular today. We have to blame the media for this. Take TV for instance: how many times did you see a New Orleans band on TV? Right! To most people this music is completely unknown. How do you want people to love it? I'm sure they would if they were only regularly confronted with it. I had the experience myself several times. A member of a cultural club asked me to organise a jazz night for them. They had had a movie night, a poetry night, a night of documentaries about foreign countries etc. and now they wanted a jazz night. I asked Chris Burke, living in Belgium before his final move to New Orleans, to organise a band. Chris took some local musicians and brought some in from England. This jazz night for an audience of laymen became a tremendous success. In the intermission people came to me and asked: Is this jazz? We didn't know, but we sure love it! Of course they did! This was music with a recognisable melody, with an stirring rhythm, with a mixture of romance and excitement. Everyone with the slightest feeling for music would love it. This is music by the people for the people. An even more striking example: In 1985 my daughter Katy invited two of her university fellow students to come with us to a Lillian Boutté concert. Although I encouraged Katy's efforts to recruit more supporters for our music, I was also a little bit worried. Suppose they wouldn't like it at all, they could ruin the evening for all of us. These two boys were raised with rock and pop music and knew almost nothing about jazz. Did they like it? They loved it! They loved Lillian and they loved the band. When the concert was over Lillian came to our table to kiss my wife, Katy and me goodbye and
she kissed the two boys too. Later in the car one of them said: Gee man, she kissed me! I'll never wash my face again the other one sighed. This was pure idolising after just one performance!
This is not the first time I write liner notes for a New Orleans Delight CD, so I have talked about the band several times and I'm not going to repeat it again. Just one remarkable fact: banjo player Erling Lindhardt and drummer Claus Lindhardt are father and son. That's completely New Orleans, the tradition passed from one generation to another. There are many examples like this, both in New Orleans and over here in Europe. A perfect explanation of the longevity of this music. Let me now concentrate on the two guest musicians on this CD. They both wrote their curriculum vitae themselves.
DEREK WINTERS was born in 1941 in the City of St. Albans, 20 miles North of London, and spent his youth collecting records, visiting the London Jazz clubs and playing in local bands in the West London area. In 1973 he made his first, of many, trips to New Orleans to hear and to meet some of his idols and to try and learn more about the music. During the trip he met Brian Carrick and they became firm friends and on their return from the USA formed The Heritage Stompers" and stayed together for over five years. The band played host to many guests including Alton Purnell, Kid Thomas, Thomas Jefferson, Kid Sheik, Sammy Rimmington and Ken Colyer. One day they got the chance to book Alton Purnell. The band was so nervous that Brian and Derek told the guys they had to take a day off work and attend a rehearsal in the afternoon before the concert. They met Alton and the railway station and took him to the Hotel. After letting him settle in for a couple of hours they went to his room to tell him about the rehearsal and he opened the door and said Rehearsal? Man you 'aint gotta worry about me, I gotta worry about You! and then firmly shut his door.
Derek's career in newspaper management meant that since the '70s he has lived in different parts of the UK as part of his job, but that gave him the opportunity to play for the The Dave Donohoe Band" in Manchester for
over six year and a similar time with the The Chris Blount" band in Derby. He spent most Monday evenings for a few years at The Bell Inn in Nottingham as a member of the long established Omega Jazz Band".
One of his great pleasures has been in making two CD's with singer/sax player Sarah Spencer, who now lives in New York. He has toured on the continent with her and played many jazz clubs in the UK including The 100 Club in Oxford Street, London as a member of her Down Home Gang".
After moving to Cornwall in the West Country, Derek joined up again with Brian Carrick and together they spent another five years touring in England, Sweden, Germany and Holland with their Algiers Stompers
He was pleased to be asked to play with the New Orleans Delight" band, and is now a regular visitor to Demark and Sweden, currently he is making about five or six visits each year to play at their festivals and jazz clubs. In 2005 he toured with the Band and special guest Marilyn Keller, a gospel singer from the USA.
With the Annie Hawkins Chosen Six", Derek played The Royal Festival Hall in London and has played a full week's residency in Portugal with Acker Bilk.
Derek was a director of the Hayfield Jazz Festival in the 1990's and has made BBC broadcasts about New Orleans music. He regularly writes articles and reviews CDs for various magazines. His own discography was recently published in the Netherlands by EuroJazz.
BRIAN CARRICK was born in 1943 in South Shields, England. It was in the sixties that Brian became interested in New Orleans music, after hearing a record of Bessie Smith singing 'Young Woman Blues'.
After reading a music paper article about George Lewis, the Kitty Halls and Preservation Hall Opening, Brian decided to write to George Lewis in New Orleans, to find out more about the music and musical history of this city. They corresponded until George Lewis died on New Years Eve 1968. By then, however, Brian had met George many times during the tours he made in England and talked to him and listened at first hand to the music and musical heritage of this city in the deep Southern state of Louisiana.
In 1973 Brian again took up clarinet after receiving one from his wife for Christmas, and so in the following April Brian went down to New Orleans to listen and learn this music in the Cresent City itself. For the following 30 years Brian has continued to return each year to New Orleans, to play with and record with the musicians of the Crescent City, and to soak up the musical atmosphere.
After visiting George Lewis' home on many occasions, and reminiscing with George's daughter Shirley about the old days in New Orleans, her uncle Willie, as she called "Bunk, and uncle Lawrence (Marrerro), and Mr
Bill (Russell), Shirley presented Brian with an old one-piece metal clarinet that George had owned since the beginning of the 1940's and which was just staying in the cupboard collecting dust and grim. Shirley also gave Brian George's favourite black clarinet case which containes to this day George's clarinet reeds, one of which is still in its original holder which states Grunewald Music Co.Inc, 325 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA. These much treasured items date back to Bunk's Superior Band's first recordings in 1942.
During his many visits to New Orleans, Brian had the good fortune to obtain help and music lessons from two of the old time clarinet players still active in the city, Albert Burbank and Dr. Paul "Polo" Barnes, (one time player with the Joe "King" Oliver Band).
Brian has played with many of the New Orleans Originals, both in Europe and New Orleans - these include Kid Thomas Valentine, Alton Purnell, Milford Dolliole, Freddie Kohlman, Kid Shiek Cola, Louis Nelson, James Prevost, Phamous Lambert, Ed Montudie Garland, Father Al Lewis, Percy Humphrey, Waldren Frog Joseph, Wendell Eugene, Gregg Stafford amongst many others.
In appreciation of his contribution and love of New Orleans and its music, Brian was in 1975 made an honorary citizen of the city of New Orleans. Brian's playing is influenced by George Lewis and the classic old style clarinet players. However Brian is no copyist. Though much influenced by the Masters, Brian has a style of his own that is a living continuance of the New Orleans tradition. As well as playing clarinet, Brian plays a mean tenor sax, in a style that is reminiscent of the great Emanuel Paul and Andrew Morgan
Derek tells how Brian and him met in New Orleans.
It was a summer's day in 1973, in New Orleans, that Brain and Derek first met. Staying at the Olivier Guest House, just off Bourbon Street, they discovered very quickly that their views, likes and dislikes of New Orleans music were the same. A couple of beers and off to Preservation Hall. After a few days they found the Heritage Hall. (Now long gone, but when Brian and Derek were last there together they discovered it had become a strip joint, so they both went in just, for research reasons, you understand, and to see what had changed!).
Most nights during their stay in the Crescent City you could find the pair of them at The Heritage Hall listening to the resident Kid Thomas band. A lady they got to know as Mamma Pat Wynn ran the Hall and seeing them most evenings asked if they played instruments and, if so, would they like to have a blow during the afternoons. They jumped at the chance and the first afternoon Brian and Derek with Hugh Watts on trombone, Paul Russell on drums, and Eric Brookes on piano played there. During that daytime session the legendary Ed Garland walked in and picked up a bass and played with them. Afterwards Brian and Derek admitted they were so nervous, behind them was The Ed Garland, who they knew of from their records of The Kid Ory band. After the session the two of them rushed into Johnnie White's bar to down some Jack Daniels and to calm their nervous excitement. It was there that Brian said he had never played in public before. What a start!
Both New Orleans Delight and the two guests have excellent memories of the tour during which this live recording was made. They played together, ate together and talked about music together. The members of NOD characterised their guests as two positive persons. Working with them was a real joy. Of course Derek and Brian have been close friends for a long time. Like old friends they like to tease each other even on stage. Derek makes fun of Brian's dialect when the latter announces a tune. Brian takes the microphone when Derek is singing to add funny fill-ins that undermine Derek's lyrics. There has always been place for some hokum in New Orleans music.
In Holstebro people were dancing all night to the music. Playing for dancers is fun says Kjeld and he is completely on line with Kid Thomas who never understood people came just to listen to the music. Dancers offer a feedback to the musicians on stage. In a way you can see if the music has the right swing Kjeld adds. Don't worry Kjeld, New Orleans Delight always has the right swing, dancers or no dancers.
Let's have a look at the repertory. It would have fitted in the old New Orleans dance halls. There is the wonderful slow blues George Lewis made up from blues phrases popular in New Orleans. I'm talking about 'Burgundy Street Blues first recorded by Lewis in 1944 and many times afterwards. Both Kjeld and Brian belong to the so-called George Lewis school. Both are no imitators, both have forged their own style inspired by their great predecessor. Listen how beautiful they play together! There are several wonderful clarinet duets on this CD. Playing these duets involves a deep understanding of what the other one needs.
The origins of Old New Orleans Blues are uncertain. Brian says he found it in a blues book some forty years ago. I seem to remember seeing Bill Russell playing it on the violin on the video of Fat Tuesday, a musical play from the seventies with among others the Olympia Brass Band and a group of dancers. By the way, the cute little kid seen sitting at Bill's feet is none other than Benjamin Jaffe, Allan Jaffe's son, now owner and manager of Preservation Hall. I also remember Bill Russell playing it, accompanied only by Butch Thompson, at an afternoon concert in Preservation Hall by the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra.
Take These Chains From My Heart is an old country & western song written by the immortal Hank Williams, who wrote also the cajun favourite Jambalaya.
In the dance halls the old New Orleans musicians played waltzes too. I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles is a fine example. The Original Dixieland Jass Band from New Orleans recorded it in England in 1919. Some hardcore jazz fans hate these waltzes. Well, they have the right to do so but their opinion goes against all historical evidence. Both Buddy Bolden and King Oliver were just as famous for their sentimental waltz playing as for their hot numbers. And let's face it, nobody plays a waltz like the New Orleans fellows. Another more famous waltz is Sobre Las Olas, better known as Over The Waves. It was written by Juventino Rosas, a Mexican composer of indian origin. It was published in 1884 when Rosas was in New Orleans with his band for the World Cotton Centennial World's Fair. The waltz was often mistakenly attributed to the great Viennese composer Johan Strauss. George Lewis recorded it in 1945.
When You And I Were Young Maggie dates from 1866. This one too was recorded by George Lewis in 1944 and published under the name of the trumpet player on the session, 'Kid Shots' Madison. Here it has a lovely vocal by Brian.
Lover is not he better known song by Rodgers and Hart, but a composition by Narvin Kimball, one of the old Preservation Hall stalwarts.
The repertory at the New Orleans dance halls often included religious songs. Just A Closer Walk With Thee is one of the most famous. It was often played as a dirge at traditional New Orleans funerals. If You See My Saviour was written by Thomas Dorsey, one of the most famous Afro-American composers of spirituals and blues.
A Fool Such As I was a 1953 hit of country & western singer Hank Snow. Later on it was also recorded by Elvis Presley (1959) and by Bob Dylan (1974).Derek sings it with great gusto.
You're All I Want For Christmas is better known to New Orleans fans as Kid Thomas' tune under the title Algiers Strut, the place over the river from New Orleans where Kid Thomas lived.
The most recent song here is probably Goin' Home written by Ken Colyer It's a nice nostalgic kind of melody.
The odd title in this collection is maybe Tap Room Special. It is a today seldom played strain of Panama. Panama is often referred to as a New Orleans march. In truth the original piece was written in habanera rhytm throughout by William H. Tyers in 1911. Tyers was born in Richmond, Virginia but spent most of his life in New York City and was interested in Latin-American rhythms. The New Orleans Rhythm Kings made the first jazz recording of Panama in 1922 but their version includes only three parts. The part played here was missing.
You Can't Be True Dear is a popular song of 1948. Kid Thomas recorded it in England.
Just Because is another popular tune sung here by Derek. He starts singing it only accompanied by rhythm. Listen to the subtle way the horns come in!
The Old Spinning Wheel dates from 1933. Bob Crosby made a popular jazz recording of it in 1937.
New Orleans Delight and their guests have a deep understanding of New Orleans jazz. Some may say this is simple music. Simple it is but probably the most difficult jazz style to play right if you are not deeply in it. It's like a language. If you can speak it fluently you can say everything you want. The musicians on this recording al know the language. They could have been born in New Orleans.