[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Tribute bands - was ODJB

john petters jpettjazz at btinternet.com
Tue Nov 18 14:17:14 PST 2003

Steve said
> Want to sell a CD to the blue hairs? Do a tribute. Sell nostalgia, not
> There is always small audience for retro garbage. BUT, there is no live
> for it as a viable live music form. Levinson and Kellso do not work live
in that
> form or in a band together steadily. And copy cat tributes do very little,
> anything, to advance the musical form

Again Steve I think you are off beam. I've just returned from our second
SELLOUT William Shakespeare Jazz festiavl in the Bard's birth place. We did
tributes to Bix, Ory, Louis, Sinatra, amongst the general sessions. The
finale was two sets with the entire company 'doing' the History of Jazz from
Ragtime to Swing. We had a 2 trumpet led band, Ragtime piano, female
vocalist (wonderful Val Wiseman) two young reed playes, a pianist under 30
(Nick Dawson).

We recreated the feel of the ODJB with Cuff Billett, Mike Pointon, Dave
Bailey, Martin Litton and Colin Bowden, the Oliver band with Ken Sims added,
a Benny Goodman Trio with James Evans on clarinet, Nat Cole, with Campbell
Burnap doing the vocals, a drum battle between Colin Bowden and myself and
an all out jazz session at the end.

The capacity crowd was indeed a live audience. Had I marketed the festival
as 15 or so of the best jazz musicians anywhere, I doubt we would have sold
many places. As to copy cat tributes - can any of us contribute anything new
to the music? or to turn the question around - any jazz musician is always
contributing something new to the music.

Many festivals in the UK put on wall to wall 6 piece trad bands few of which
have any individuality. I try and and pick individuals at the top of their
game and mix and match accordingly.

By the way, we had a wide cross section of ages in the performers, including
the legendary 86 year old George Webb - the father of British Jazz, who was
in great shape.

I've played tribute shows since the mid 80s (Bessie Smith, Fats, Gershwin,
Hoagy, Bing, Ory, Benny Goodman etc) all with a line up of top players under
 my name as bandleader. Had I marketed the performances as The John Petters
Swing Band, or John Petters Creole Jazz Band or why, we would not had had
good box offices. In the UK, only the old boys from the trad boon, ie, Ball
, Barber, Bilk & Melly do the business under their own names. Us Johnny come
lateleys rely on themed presentation if we are to play serious concerts in
good venues.

John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ

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