Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A New Orleans Memory

Autographs of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 1983 Posted by Picasa

For obvious reasons, here’s another entry about New Orleans:

My first trip to New Orleans occurred in August, 1983. Being a southern California native, my attention was immediately seized by the overwhelming humidity. I was glad my grandparents had left the South before I was born!

As a jazz fanatic, I needed to make the pilgrimage to Preservation Hall, home of traditional (don’t call it Dixieland) music. It’s small un-air-conditioned room, and on that hot humid night was completely filled with tourists like me. The band consisted of Raymond Burke (1904-1986) on clarinet, Emanuel Paul (1904-1988) on tenor sax, Emanuel Sayles (1907-1986) on banjo. Leading the band was trumpeter ‘Kid’ Thomas Valentine (1896-1987). Kid Thomas was OLD – I’m not sure that he wasn’t a conductor on the Underground Railroad! ;>)

It seemed Kid Thomas had a range of about an octave and a half. But he was still able to provide a punchy and quirky lead for the band. It was interesting to hear a trumpeter whose style owed more to King Oliver than Louis Armstrong.

A friend of ours was recently lamenting the many artists she had missed seeing (Tito Puente amongst them) and the city of New Orleans due to procrastination. If someone is playing nearby, go see them! As you can see by the dates of death for the Preservation Hall band members, I barely made it in time to see these gentlemen. But New Orleans will be back!

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