|Reviews from the tour with New Orleans Delight and the soloists Gregg Stafford from New Orleans and Brian Towers from Toronto from November10 to 13, 2004:
|Borås Tidning, November 24, 2004. By Anders Wasen.
A Heavenly Jazz Evening
Review. - I hope my music will bring someone closer to God.
That is what the trumpet player Gregg Stafford from the birth city of Jazz, New Orleans, said at the concert.
Gregg Stafford, who works as a math teacher, is something as unique as young jazz musician, who still plays New Orleans jazz (commonly known as revival jazz) as it was played in the 1940s.
He was supposed to become a Baptist minister and has his roots in the Baptist church. But instead he chose the teaching profession and jazz.
The jazz music has its roots in the US southern church music and the almost sold out church got a taste of how it might have sounded back in the days.
The Danish jazz band New Orleans Delight (with the Swedish bass player Stefan Kärfve) continues the legacy of revival jazz. They play sitting and as acoustically as possible, and with collective improvisations impressing the overall music performance.
The audience got to hear many hymns, which are considered to be old time goodies in jazz circles. From Down By the Riverside to Walking with the King, Gloryland, and probably one of the most played ones, Just a Closer Walk with Thee.
The concert was the bands second one on its Swedish tour and the members where still getting to know each other.
But with very seasoned musicians, who share the basic love for the same music, it became a beautiful jazz evening for the listeners.
Gregg Stafford dominated with lyrical and exerting trumpet playing. In addition, he is an excellent singer.
The high point of the evening was the non-sanctimonious encore, What a Wonderful World. Even as it differed greatly from the evenings repertoire Gregg Staffords voice mediated perfectly the same message.
- Anders Wasen
Photo: Gregg Stafford made sure that the church was rocking with people clapping.
|Ulricehamns Tidning November 13, 2004. By Lina Osterberg.
Bourbon Street Music in the Church
Tvärred. New Orleans jazz is famous and loved all over the world. Wednesday Tvärred was visited by Gregg Stafford, one of the citys most recognized trumpet players.
Tvärreds church was filled with bodies swinging in unison with the happy jazz music Wednesday. Spontaneous applauds are maybe not commonplace in church settings, but at a genuine jazz concert there is nothing strange about clapping with the music. And to play jazz in a church does not seem all that strange if you are familiar with the genres history.
- In New Orleans, jazz is also religious; it follows man from the cradle to the grave, explained Kjeld Brant from New Orleans Delight.
The band had two guest solo players with them to Tvärred: Brian Towers from Canada and Gregg Stafford from New Orleans. The permanent cast consist of musicians from Denmark and Sweden.
- Jazz originally comes from America. But today there are bands all over the world: in Denmark, Sweden and Japan that loves the New Orleans jazz, said Gregg Stafford.
He is himself brought up with the music in its birth city in Louisiana in the American South. There he learned to play it together with many famous musicians at restaurants on Bourbon Street, the jazzs own street.
Gregg Stafford is devoted to the traditional approach to playing and considers it to be his mission to keep New Orleans jazz alive, and teach it to the next generation. Mostly because, jazz does not have the same status anymore in his hometown as it once enjoyed.
- The children in New Orleans are not taught to play jazz the way we were. When I was growing up you could hear jazz all over Bourbon Street, but that is sadly not the case anymore, said Gregg Stafford.
Those that were in Tvärred instead of New Orleans Wednesday could on the contrary enjoy a concert of all religious jazz music from 1920s revival period was played.
- Lina Österberg
|Nya Kristinehamns Posten November 15, 2004.
By Anna Ståläng.
New Orleans Music Induced
It was a smash hit for the arrangers, Jazz I Lusaken, when 200 plus people came to Broängskyrkan to listen to New Orleans Delight and the trumpet player, Gregg Stafford.
That the music, which is over 100 years old, drew so many people is terribly fun. It comes to show that it does not have to be the newest, hippest or modern to draw a big audience. The tradition of Kid Ory, Kid Rena and Bunk Johnson still stands strong today.
The music that was once invented in New Orleans is still totally right today. And the reason why Gregg Stafford plays his trumpet almost everyday is because he considers it to be his mission to bring it to the next generation.
- This type of older New Orleans jazz is hardly played today and adds that it is as important to convey the Christian message.
New Orleans jazz has a clear and determined form, where all the instruments have a precise function. Where the trumpet, most often, has a leading role and the clarinet has a prominent role with improvisation solos. The drum playing should be precise with accentuation on the two and four, and it provides the special framework for which in all the musicians plays. Gregg Stafford does command his history very well with soft and wide trumpet tones. There is a distinct will and warm sympathy with a message that reaches everyone, who wants to listen. At first the music can seem calm and maybe even slow, but then you are missing the forceful intensity that the whole time poking for your attention.
Together with Brian Towers supporting trombone playing and Stefan Karfves suggestive, and forceful slap playing on the stand-up bas, the level of the New Orleans jazz played is the one expected. The audience is delighted and the superlatives are falling all over the place during the break, and the audience does not how to contain themselves so good it is:
- Fantastic, there are no words to describe how wonderful the music is. It is not often that we get the chance to listen to such pinnacle playing. The comp is as perfect as it should be and it swings enormously, thinks Inge Erikson and Harald Alvers from Hammaro. And that is how over 200 people will remember a dark, rainy and cloudy evening in November. The audience travelled together from Kristinehamn to New Orleans and got a real multicultural experience of a lifetime.
- Anna Ståläng
The church filled with people, when musicians from Denmark and USA come to Kristinehamn.
|Nya Lidköping Tidning. November 15, 2004. By Mats Nilsson.
Jazz Thriller with New Orleans Star
The Danish jazz band, New Orleans Delight, together with the New Orleans Star and the Canadian Brian Towers, gave a jazz thriller concert Saturday night in Lidköping.
The 160 enthusiastic listeners surely got the same feeling brought on by this health bringing dipping, which was attested to by the praises by jazz celebrities from all over that had come to the Kylanderskolan.
Gregg Stafford, who is one of todays best trumpet players, has a unique responsibility in New Orleans, as he very well might be the only one who can bring this form of jazz into the future.
- His way of playing is the closest you can get to the genuine New Orleans jazz, said Kjeldt Brandt, himself a well-known and renowned clarinet player.
It is not only his skills as a musician that makes him popular, his personality and charisma both on, and off stage plays into it as well.
The band with the three blow horn players: Kjeld Brandt, Brian Towers on Trombone and of course, Gregg Stafford, celebrated their triumphs during their respective solo plays, as expected.
- This was the evenings best performance, said Gregg afterwards.
Another hot number of the evening was: Milneburg Joys with Gregg on vocals. The sacramental tune, What a Friend We have in Jesus, became a melody-wise comfortable relaxer, where the comp sections soft accompanying of Greggs vocal impressions, brought the thoughts back to the comp of Göta River Jazzmen.
Just a Closer Walk with Thee, was yet another sacramental hymn performed, which the brass bands in New Orleans often play during funeral processions. It is a popular tune that has been recorded by greats like Bunk Johnson, Kid Ory and Chris Barber.
During the rapid performance of Tiger Rag, which has its origin in the French Cadrilj, it was difficult to sit still. It is a tune with an interesting origin, which that black people through their dance movements pocked fun at white people. Apart from the blow trios magnificent solo numbers, pianist Hans Pedersen showed himself to be the Danish answer to our own pianist Ingemar Wågeman. He received a well-deserved extra-long encore.
Lastly, we should turn our attention to What a Wonderful World and When the Saints go Marching In.
The first one being Armstrongs trademark tune, where Greggs vocals transformed themselves into sounding like the masters own. The last a very happy and uplifting hymn, which is one of the most loved and played songs through jazz history and in turn ended this wonderful New Orleans evening.
- It was a fantastic concert that gave you the genuine New Orleans feeling, said Lisbeth Götenstedt from Medborgarskolan that was the main arranger in cooperation with the organization Jazzkatten.
- Mats Nilsson
The Danish band, New Orleans Delight, topped off with the trumpet player Gregg Stafford and trombone player Brian Towers, treated to a jazz thriller. Closest to the camera bandleader, Kjeld Brandt.
|Jazz fans travelled far
The concert with New Orleans Delight topped off with Gregg Stafford and Brian Towers was apart from the high quality, extraordinary because of how far listeners had travelled to listen them (Lidköping).
But firstly, it should be mentioned that bandleader Kjeld Brandt said that the 10 day long tour together with Gregg Stafford had been his greatest musical life experience.
- Gregg is a top musician, he said.
Anita Liljedahl who came together with her two girlfriends from Stockholm said it was worth every penny.
Björn Bärnheim, who has played a significant role in the founding of the Strömsholm Jazz museum, which should not go unmentioned, was lyrical, too.
- Incredibly good, he said.
Hans Åsberg, well-known drum player with amongst others Göta River Jazzmen, thought that the audience got exactly what they wanted to hear.
- I have been waiting for 10 years to hear Gregg, said Margareta Sköld, known for arranging jazz concerts in Valstad Kyrka together with her husband Jan.
- Lastly, it should not go unmentioned that Jazzkatterna with director Bror Johansson were more than pleased.
- Mats Nilsson
|World Class New Orleans Concert in Valstad
The coming together Music in Valstad had made for an extraordinary music feast Friday as they gave their 51st jazz concert in the church.
The Danish-Swedish band, New Orleans Delight, with their orchestra leader, Kjeld Brandt, are well-known in our circle, as they have visited many times before. As they had Gregg Stafford from New Orleans with them there was more interest. Gregg is right now probably the most noticed representative for the traditional style of jazz, formed during the first half of the 20th century.
An additional guest, the trombone player Brian Towers from Canada, enforced the group.
The evening was shaped like a church concert with many famous gospels, hymns and spirituals, and the sold-out church was treated to old music performed by very high class solo players and orchestra musicians.
- This is the first concert of the coming next 50, said a very happy Margareta Sköld from the Valstads group.
The Entrance. A proud and happy Margareta Sköld with her daughter Cecilia led the orchestra into the church.
Extra-ordinary. With emotional and stunning technique Gregg Stafford played together with the New Orleans Delight colleagues. In the background Hans Pedersen, Erling and Claus Lindhart, and Stefan Kärfve. Photo: Rolf Johansson.
Skaraborgs Läns Tidning. November 15, 2004. By Rolf Johansson.
Jazzconcert with World-Renowned Musician.
Famous New Orleans Delight performed for the second time in three months at Valstads Kyrka. Guest solo player was one of our times most renowned jazz trumpet player, Gregg Stafford from New Orleans.
- I have been waiting for him for 10 years, said arranger Margareta Sköld in her welcome speech.
He goes against the trend of young new jazz musicians with their new impulses and instead he stays firmly to the roots, what is commonly known as tradjazz. Just like it was when it began during the first decade of the last century by George Lewis, and Jim Robertson. Just like he was taught to play it during his childhood and by older colleagues during many years of performing.
The most famous of them all is Gregg Stafford, who has an incredibly skilled technique and tone that explodes into an obstinate, and gurgling dynamic followed by a lovely and almost not audible sound. He is known for his fantasy-filled expression and good harmony, and many examples of just that were given on Friday. His charisma is that of humble and happy, and he probably surprised many by very early on talking about his faith and how he wishes that the music would bring many closer to Christ (Jesus).
At home he is an active member and minister of the Second Historic Baptist Church.
- I am not a preacher, but I am trying to bear witness in my playing, he said during the break and told about the warmth, and music he encountered when he as a child went to church with his grandmother.
He met Danish-Swedish New Orleans Delight last spring in the Sailors Church in New Orleans and became very delighted with their playing, and promised right there and then to come over for a tour, orchestra leader Kjeld Brant explains. The group has a very special predicament as it lacks a permanent trumpet player, which in turns gives them the opportunity to invite famous trumpet players from other countries.
- Gregg is the greatest one of them all right now, he said without hesitation during his introduction.
A Widespread and Lovely Sound
New Orleans Delight does not need a closer presentation after their many concerts in Valstad since its beginning almost eight years ago. Their strength lies in their group play, musicians skills and stomp, and steady distinct rhythm. Stefan Kärfve is brilliant on the stand-up bas and a pillar in the comp section with Erling, and Claus Lindhart on respective banjo and drums. New pianist Hans Pedersen both comps and plays solo very well, but unfortunately the piano does not reach over the spirited brothers in the furthermost back comp line. The group sometimes plays without a trumpet, but the clarinet and trombone are permanent instruments of the cast. The trombone player Bengt Hansson have left since last time and is replaced this time by Brian Towers from Canada. A driven blower and solo player with great imagination, and a wide and lovely sound. On the clarinet is orchestra leader Kjeld Brandt. He is a skilled musician and leader well known in many parts of Europe. Additionally, he is a magnificent clarinet player, who has given the group its formative style and special characteristics. It was a delight to witness the couple-play between Gregg and Kjeld. They are together two comfortable middle-aged men, slightly leaning towards each other and obviously happy playing just this kind of music.
On the repertoire were well-known spirituals, hymns and gospels, and they begun without the guest solo player with George Lewis 50s hymn Lead me Savior followed by He touched me, the song that was made eternal by Lilian Boute and Elvis Presley. It was noticeable that the Delight sounded good even without a trumpet player.
After that Gregg Stafford raised the concert with the sacramental In The Sweet By and By, Lord, Lord, lord, Youre Sure Good to Me, Gimme that Old Time Religion and many others. He dedicated the emotional hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus to Margareta Sköld and played it convincingly. His incredible improvisations and great dare playing was put to the test during one of many re-takes. He got the whole church to sing heart-felt English during The Old Time Religion and during Just a Little While to Stay Here Brian Towers flowed both with and without the tin can in front of the clock piece.
What a Night
After the break they brought on Over in The Gloryland, which usually is played at funerals in New Orleans. A jubilating trumpet, lovely comp and Greggs singing brought at least the church people closer to the Gloryland.
When they had returned, there was a micro fundraising by Bengt-Åke Öhgren for a rich Christmas giving to cleft palate children at the Polish orphanage. Even the blessing was compromised. Much was said over a short period of time and he even spoke about the networking between New Orleans, Copenhagen, and Valstad and how music can cure winter depression. Closer to God was song unison.
Just a Closer Walk was also included in the repertoire with Gregg on vocals; bas play on the clarinet and fantasy filled currents during the solo playing. Towards the end it was time for happy-jazz with Down by The Riverside and lastly parade act What a Wonderful World. The song made immortal by Louis Armstrong in 1965 on the radio show Good Morning, Vietnam. Funny and imitating exactly his predecessor Gregg Stafford sings with a raspy voice the well-known words unpredictable, sometimes political, but still what a wonderful world.
As an encore the audience got Walking with the King and When the Saints Go Marching In. When people entered the November darkness after the two and half hour long music feast it were with the words Unbelievable and Fantastic sounding the most, mix in with the words Great and What a Night on their lips. All with apostrophises.
- Rolf Johansson
The Front Line Men. Solo playing trio with orchestra leader Kjeld Brandt and the guests Gregg Stafford, and Brian Towers. Photo: Rolf Johansson.
|Skaraborgs Allehanda November 16, 2004. By Stig-Arne Jacobson.
Real New Orleans in Valstad
The church in Valstad is an established centre for New Orleans music lovers. Gregg Stafford gave their latest concert Friday night the extra feeling of music's origin.
Gregg Stafford was not alone prominence, the trombone player Brian Towers from Canada was another strong addition and Danish New Orleans Delight is not to play with either.
- We have been waiting for 10 years to get Gregg Stafford here and now we have succeeded with the help of the bands excellent connections, said Margareta Sköld.
Orchestra leader, Kjeld Brandt, provided the line-up for the evening:
- There will be spirituals, gospel and hymns from the black church of New Orleans. I met Gregg during my first visit to New Orleans in the 1970s, he was one of my greatest experiences at Preservation Hall and is today one of few, maybe even the only one, that still plays the music of the 1920s.
When the concert began the church was filled to the brim. On the front row sat, among others, aficionados Rolf Johansson and Göran Magnusson. In front of these two on the floor sat the audiences probably youngest, Caitlin Olofsson and Emma Sköld, noticeably enjoying every tone.
The trombone player, Brian Towers, embodied his forceful playing during the first number, Lead Me Saviour.
- I have come all the way from New Orleans to share with you the talent God gave me and I am very grateful for that you have made it possible for both Brian, and me to come here, said the obvious believer Gregg Stafford.
Filled with Emotions
He turned out to be as emotion-filled a singer as a trumpet player and referred quite often to that, and the church and the orchestra, as his old memories. In Give Me That Old Time Religion he incited sing along and had even adapted the text to the Swedish audience.
The listeners got to enjoy about 15 tunes of religious character, such as What A Friend We Have in Jesus, Lord Lord Lord and Just a Little While To Stay Here with many beautiful solo plays.
- Louis Armstrong is certainly smiling in his heaven, said a lady to Gregg Stafford during the break.
In a perfect world all the members of the band would be lined up to be seen, but this is in most cases this is not feasible. Hans Pedersen behind the piano, the banjo player Erling Lindhardt and drum player Claus Lindardt (father and son) are placed in the obscure for practical reasons, while the Swedish stand-up bas player Stefan Karfve and orchestra leader Kjeld Brandt with his great sounding clarinet are more prominent in the New Orleans Delight.
As usual the concerts house priest, Bengt-Ake Ohgren said a couple of well-chosen words, which benefited the collect during this sold-out concert. The arrangers were very satisfied according to Jan Sköld:
- We have more young people in the audience and the seating is working very well.
- Stig-Arne Jacobson
Gregg Stafford in Valstad. Photo: Göran Magnusson
or take a look at New Orleans Delight's website to learn more.