[Dixielandjazz] Re: New Orleans 60+ years ago

Charles Suhor csuhor at zebra.net
Fri Jun 10 09:44:10 PDT 2005

Wow, you were in the thick of the revival, Pat. My brother Don and I 
were a bit younger than you, but I'm betting we crossed paths somewhere 
since we both did spot gigs all around town as teens, then Don went pro 
for the rest of his life. BTW, I'm doing a short sketch on how Catholic 
musicians often used to meet after Sat. night gigs at the 3 a.m. 
"fisherman's mass" at Star of the Sea church on St. Roch Ave. Does that 
ring a bell with you?

On your other topic, it seems that amped basses are here to stay, and 
for me it's how they're played that counts--as with acoustic bass, 
played with an ear towards working as a unit with the rhythm section. 
And not too loud, dammit. The quality of the sound is important but if 
the rhythm is flowing, forget the preconceptions and have a great time 
with what's there.

Charlie Suhor

On Jun 10, 2005, at 9:07 AM, Patrick Cooke wrote:

> Hi Charlie.........
>     Yes, I remember Sharkey in the Blue Room and Tony Almerico at the
> Parisian Room, Papa Celestin at the Paddock lounge.  At the time I was 
> one
> of the 'young' players.  It was around 1947 or 48, or maybe 1949.  I 
> was
> playing with Irving Fazola  at the time, doing 3 nights a week at 
> Tony's on
> Canal Blvd., plus 2 shows a day on WTPS, and a few off nights with Sid
> Davilla at Leon Prima's 500 and a couple other spots.  I played with 
> Pete
> Fountain and George Girard when they were with the Basin St. Six.  
> Bunny
> Franks had the mumps for about 2 weeks, and I subbed for him with the 
> group.
>              The tuba was used mainly because without amplifiers, the 
> string bass
> could not be heard....also it was too cumbersome to march with.   I 
> also used to play trombone, and am now trying to get my lip back,
> though it was never that good to begin with.  I hope I live long 
> enough to
> get the lip back.
>         Well, I have given up plaing the acoustic standup bass, mainly
> because it is just too cumbersome to deal with.  Also it was designed 
> for
> bowing, which I haven't done since I played shows in Miami Beach in the
> early 60's.  I now play the electric bass which was designed for 
> picking.
> Now most purists go into cardiac arrest when they just see an electric 
> bass,
> before they even hear a note.  They saw one once before and they 
> didn't like
> it, and they assume they all sound the same.  Actually the kind of 
> strings
> one uses has more of an effect on the sound than whether it has an 
> acoustic
> chamber or not.  My bass does not sound anything like the ones the rock
> players use, but no matter....the 'elite' purists enjoy thinking they 
> know
> something the rest of the world doesn't.  They don't know jack.  Their
> 'preferences' are really prejudices.  Their attitudes are beginning to
> tarnish my love for the music.
>      I went to a festival in Calif last year.  It was a mainstream
> festival...no trad.  There were none of the prejudices expressed or the
> usual put downs I hear from the trad purists.  It was refreshing.
>      Re Palm Court:  Palm court has some fine players, and a few not so
> fine ones that seem to continuously show up there.  I was there a 
> couple of
> weeks ago...Lars on piano, Jim Singleton on bass, Elie on Drums, Evan
> Christopher on clar, Clyde Wilson on trumpet and I don't remember the 
> bone
> player's name, but all the other players
> were great.
>      Got to go....I'm spending too much time on this computer!
>      Pat Cooke
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Charles Suhor" <csuhor at zebra.net>
> To: "Patrick Cooke" <amazingbass at cox.net>
> Cc: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2005 5:27 PM
> Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Dixielandjazz Digest, Vol 30, Issue 19
>> On Jun 9, 2005, at 3:38 PM, Patrick Cooke wrote:
>>> Judy writes:
>>>> Chris reckons that jazz in New Orleans has moved on
>>>> since the days when Ken Colyer was there.
>>>    I have to admit I don't know who Ken Colyer is/was, but I was 
>>> living California and Florida for about 45 years, and just returned 
>>> to New Orleans 11 years ago.  New Orleans has advanced to using PA 
>>> systems, and there are a few purists who even stay to listen when 
>>> there is more than one microphone in use.  There are still a few 
>>> smug "elitists" who still would rather hear an out-of-tune acoustic 
>>> piano than an in-tune electronic one, even though the new keyboards 
>>> can sound like a concert grand.  There are a few other silly notions 
>>> harbored by a few that make them feel they are above those of us who 
>>> live in a world of electric refrigerators, TV, computers, and 
>>> automatic transmissions.
>>>    But basically the music has survived and even advanced a little, 
>>> somewhat to the dismay of a few who feel that improvement is 
>>> impossible. Come to the French Quarter Festival.....It's mostly 
>>> local New Orleans musicians.  They still play a lot of the old 
>>> chestnuts, but most of the musicianship is superb.
>>>     Pat Cooke
>> English trumpeter Colyer was in N.O. in '52 or '53, just as the local 
>> popular revival of early & Dixieland jazz was starting to wind down. 
>> A noteworthy point about N.O. players "moving on" is that the 
>> international revival of the 40s and 50s took a very specialized form 
>> in the city. First generation black players were revived, some of 
>> them mainly to record on labels like American Music, a few (like Papa 
>> Celestin and George Lewis' bands) getting gigs and exposure. (Bunk 
>> rarely played in town.) Seasoned white players, mainly a little 
>> younger (Sharkey Bonano's and Tony Almerico's bands), did very well.
>> The point is that the younger players didn't emulate Oliver or the 
>> Red Hot Peppers. Nothing resembling Lu Watters, Turk Murphy, or 
>> Claude Luter, or the Firehouse Five. Tubas and banjos were seen as 
>> old or corny, or even commercial, suggesting minstrelsy. The fluidity 
>> and invention they were seeking weren't as easily achieved, the 
>> youngsters felt, with the insistence of a strummed banjo and the 
>> enforced "2" feeling of a tuba. And marching and brass bands were 
>> years from getting the attention of young players.
>> Most black and white kids were in fact attracted to modern jazz, many 
>> black youngsters to the new R&B as well. The was cultivated in the 
>> city by a good number of white youngsters who took up the Dixieland 
>> style and "moved on" with it--Fountain, the Assunto brothers, George 
>> Girard, Roy Liberto, Connie Jones, Murphy Campo, Al McCrossen, Pee 
>> Wee Spitelera, Paul Ferrara, and others. Exceptions existed, of 
>> course. Dr. John was a young white R&B comer. The Last Straws used a 
>> banjo but the band in its early incarnations wasn't taken seriously. 
>> Like many revivalist bands, they could "play hot," but they didn't 
>> swing.
>> It was the largely the influx of young foreign musicians in the 60s 
>> that turned interest back to earliest jazz styles, instrumentation, 
>> and repertoire. Many of them hung out with Preservation Hall veterans 
>> after it opened in 1961. Lars Edergan, Barry Martyn, and others 
>> contributed greatly to this. (Tom Sancton was one of the few locals.) 
>> Danny Barker later worked to bring kids into marching bands, which 
>> also "moved" on, sometimes nicely, sometimes in R&B and other strange 
>> directions, and regressing at times to the glorification of arrested 
>> amateurism.
>> The local jazz scene today is a very mixed bag, but updated 
>> Dixieland, though sometimes too facile, is often the most driving and 
>> interesting force. I don't get the N.O. that often, but typical bands 
>> I've heard at the Palm Court are a good example. Musicians integrate 
>> many styles into the ensembles and solos--listening to each other 
>> very well, often sounding very modern, all the while keeping the 
>> spirit of freewheeling Dixieland jazz. You can hear a lot of Clifford 
>> Brown in Leroy Jones' trumpet, Ray Brown in Bill Huntington's bass, 
>> etc. It's good, deep, feelingful jazz. Another way of saying that: 
>> it's to my taste!
>> Charlie Suhor
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