[Dixielandjazz] Chris's friend / Paul Ferrara Profile on "Steppin' Out"-- New Orleans famous drummer dies
csuhor at zebra.net
Fri Dec 5 11:49:39 PST 2014
Sorry to hear about Paul's passing. I was about three years older, but he and I and Reed Vaughan came up at the same time as teenage drummers in New Orleans. I first heard Paul around 1952 when I drove down to Buras with pianist/vocalist Theresa Kelly to listen to Murphy Campo's young band (with Pee Wee Spitelera, I believe, or Charlie May). Paul was a swing-oriented drummer, a musical extrovert with fine raw talent. Many agreed that he became the fastest drummer in town, after the style of Buddy Rich. Chops galore.
Anecdote. When I was a senior at Nicholls High and Paul was maybe a freshman at Easton, there was a "Battle of the Bands" during the halftime of a four-school faculty basketball game. The Easton group included Paul, a powerful trumpeter named Gerry Gerbrecht, trombonist/jazz wizard Larry Muhoberac, and clarinetist Eddie Winston. They had a big Dixieland sound a la Hirt's combo, and I thought they blew us and a straw-hat band from Fortier out of the room. We played a laid back traditional version of Tin Roof, double-timed after the clarinet solo, sparked by Oliver-influenced trumpeter Lawrence (Frosty) Francingues. (Theresa played the bass line on baritone horn. I loved that girl.) To my surprise, we took the trophy home. Afterwards we were personally congratulated by one of the judges--Johnny Wiggs--and I understood why we won. Wiggs knew that we were attentive to jazz roots.
I watched Paul's career with interest and admiration over the years. His looks really haven't changed--I could easily pick him out in a crowd. He kept his Irish Channel dialect too. Somehow it was almost identical with the Upper Ninth Ward "yat" dialect that I was brought up on. (As you see, it embraces ending sentences with prepositions.)
On Dec 5, 2014, at 8:11 AM, Norman Vickers wrote:
> To: DJML, Musicians & Jazzfans list
> From: Norman Vickers, Jazz Society of Pensacola
> Thanks to pianist Chris Saunders of Pensacola and New Orleans for this. Sad
> that I only learn about drummer Paul Ferrara on the occasion of his death.
> See Chris's note about his association with Ferrara and others. The
> videoclip on Jazzonthetube is about 6 minutes. It's an interview with
> Ferrara, presumably from one of the New Orleans TV stations.
> For some of you not familiar with the New Orleans patois, there is a section
> of New Orleans called the "Irish Channel" This is about three blocks deep
> along the Mississippi river. Homes were built and occupied by immigrants so
> they could walk to work along the docks. So the Irish Channel speech sounds
> just like that of Brooklyn, NY and for same reason-- immigrant cultural mix.
> The accent is distinctive and certainly different from those who live in
> other parts of the city and outside New Orleans proper.
> Thanks, Chris......
> -----Original Message-----
> From: CHRIS SAUNDERS [mailto:chrissaunders1 at mac.com]
> Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2014 11:46 PM
> To: Undisclosed recipients:
> Subject: Chris's friend / Paul Ferrara Profile on "Steppin' Out"
> Hi from Chris / I'm truly very sad with today's notice of the death of Paul
> Ferrara on Dec 3rd (see "jazz on the tube"). I played with Paul for many
> years in the Rene Netto band and with Al Hirt on Bourbon St. Paul was with
> Louis Prima on the Vegas Strip for many many years and it showed in his
> playing. He had many Sinatra and show biz stories. I miss those days and the
> players that made those gigs so memorable. Very sad indeed.
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