New Orleans Jazz Clubs
Before the 1990's. there were jazz clubs all over New Orleans. Some like the Paddock Lounge, Famous Door and the Parisian Room had been there since the 1930's. The stories these joints could tell would probably curl your hair. The bands playing there were always local boys - white, black - it didn't matter - but they got together with one common goal - to play some good music and make a buck in the process. Jake was lucky enough to have caught some of the acts and visited some of the clubs before they were sold out to boutiques and top-40-disco-driving motherfuckers, and the essence was overwhelming.

So - to quote Rod Serling -

Picture if you will - a smoky club off Royal Street - it is the 1950's - people are wearing those funny thick black plastic glasses and skinny ties. Eisenhower is President and there really isn't a care in the world. Kennedy hasn't even pissed off Sinatra yet, so the entertainment world is in good stead. And here you are...

Before you clutching the mike is some obnoxious Yankee. His accent is worse than yours, but he is introducing the band. You look around and realize why: RCA is there recording everything, so no wonder this guy seems more than antimated. Trying to work the audience up.

You look at the bandstand and notice something odd - there are two of about everything!! Trumpets, clarinets, trombones... a saxophone for God's sake? What is this??? Ahhhhh! A recording! But what a recording it will be...

We have an All-Star Jazz Band in front of us. Never mind that they are performing and here mostly for the record - they are here and we are here!!! Have a bourbon and water and light up a Pall Mall - it's showtime, son...

Personnel : George Girard - Trumpet
Tony Almerico - Trumpet
Santo Pecora - Trombone
Jack Delaney - Trombone
Pete Fountain - Clarinet
Harry Shields - Clarinet
Lester Bouchon - Tenor Saxophone
Roy Zimmerman - Piano
Paul Edwards - Drums
Roger Johnson - Drums
Phil Duroit - Bass
Frank Frederico - Guitar
Selection One: Well, you can't get an older chestnut than theSaints, and this one is sliced and diced and served up perfectly done. The large number of horns in this ensemble provide us with something interesting in addition to many, many solos. Listen behind the solos and hear the remainder of the musicians ad-libbing their little background riffs - one guy will play a pattern, and the rest will join in, filling in the harmonies. The trumpets - leading the way to the door in good harmony - is enough to make you want to order another round. Well, in fact...

Listen to  When the Saints Go Marching In (Real Audio)

Selection Two: OK, I know I could have eliminated the announcer at the beginning of the recording, but the atmosphere would have been lost. Anyway, the Farewell Blues serves to demonstrate the organized train wreck that is Dixieland Jazz. Listen to the perfectly executed plunger-mute trumpet solo by George Girard - I swear that bastard is talking to me. After the solos are dispensed with, and the trumpets take and hold that "get ready, here we go" note - the guys just lean back and try to blow the nails off the roof.

Listen to the  Farewell Blues(Real Audio)

Personnel : Tony Almerico - Trumpet
Warren Luening - Trumpet
Santo Pecora - Trombone
Jack Delaney - Trombone
Pete Fountain - Clarinet
Pee Wee Spitelera - Clarinet
Peter Picone - Tenor Saxophone
Roy Zimmerman - Piano
Johnny Castaign  - Drums
Joe Loyacano - Bass
Frank Frederico - Guitar
This section is by Tony Almerico and His All Stars. It was recorded in the Parisian Room sometime in the 1950's. Same announcer, same setup, but with Tony in charge things are a little more raucous than the previous set. The Parisian Room was Tony's club, and when he held court, the audience (and some of the band) had more fun than people should have been allowed.
Selection One: The Muskrat Ramble (not to be confused with Muskrat Love) is really a showcase for the tailgate-style trombone of Santo Pecora. During the initial run-through, his trombone seems to always be there, supporting all the others and filling in the holes. The relentless sliding and scooping is the hallmark of the "tailgater" - so named because in the old days when travelling by wagon, the bands had to place the trombone player on the tailgate, because otherwise he would knock everyone else senseless with that damned slide. (You gotta love that announcer for whistling and clapping - if for no other reason) And that lovely little trombone tag at the end...

Listen to  Muskrat Ramble (Real Audio)

Selection Two: Everybody - but *everybody* - has fun with the Twelfth Street Rag. It's such a goomer, what else can you do? Listen to Pete Fountain's schmucky little clarinet solo - from there you know there's no where to go but up! And he makes up for it on the second go with that lovely liquid sound of his. Santo playing "Chicago" during his break reinforces the nonsense. The sax is the only guy who is even remotely serious - but I guess he ws figuring he ws damned lucky just to get to play. But things take a turn for the worse with that "do-wacka-doo" chorus - punctuated with that little spiral-down...ah well, songs like these are why God let us invent Jack Daniels. One more, please...

Listen to the  Twelfth Street Rag(Real Audio)

Selection Three: OK, you expected to get to a blues tune before now, I'll bet. The Tin Roof Blues is as good a selction as any - but you caught me in a lie. Remember up above I told you about that perfect plunger-mute solo by George Girard? Tony puts him to shame on this one! That SOB is talkin to me!!!! I just had to be nice up there, because George died first. Now that we're in Tony's place, I can kiss his ass. Starting with the trombone solo, we catch the backround guys going at it again. Why do I visualize the Pips? Anyway....Love the way the trombone stabs the rest of the guys awake....then some turd from the audience gets his one second of eternally-recorded fame. The "Momma done told me" ride-out is a good way to punch this baby home.

Listen to the  Tin Roof Blues(Real Audio)

Selection Four: The last cut is Bill Bailey. The announcer's speech is prophetic, because somewhere around the 1970's the music went away - the real music anyway. Tony is even melodic in his solo - not his usual hiccuping style. Especially nice is the sound generated by the guitar, bass and drums alone - a nice quiet eye to the approaching storm. Somewhere after Roy's piano solo, pandemonium breaks out. The usual roller-coaster ride to the end ...

Listen to  Bill Bailey (Real Audio)

... where the young silky-haired woman awaits the tired, probably semi-drunk jazzman to return from the rain-shiny streets of the old French Quarter. She smiles as he comes through the door, trumpet case in one hand and money in the other. He is one of the good guys, hands it over and kisses her. "There's a little gone. Had to pay my tab." She takes the money and smiles - there's always enough brought home to overcome the pitiful little bar tab. Besides, he's playing tomorrow and most of next week. Since it's four in the morning, hunger isn't a worry, but sleep is. After he kisses her goodnight and begins to lightly snore, she goes back to the porch and sits in the hot, wet blanket that is a Louisiana night. She lights a cigarette and watches the smoke curl upward into the air, caressing the  ceiling before rolling off the roof and into the night air. Far away she hears the low moan of a ship on the river. The neighborhood cat jumps on the porch railing to give her company. Musicians. Why does she stay? She smiles, flicks the cigarette over the cat's head and onto the street, and glides through the screen door, closing it behind her.


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