To celebrate our birthdays, Gabriele and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend in New Orleans. It was a whirlwind of jazz and a great time.
Day 1 started with a kind of musical history of jazz with the Louisiana Sunspots featuring trumpeter Leroy Jones. Then it was off to dinner at Arnaud’s with entertainment from three strolling jazz trios, who were each terrific.
Day 2 was outstanding. We started with the brass band performance at legendary Preservation Hall, followed by a walking tour of the French Quarter and a visit to the Cabildo Museum.
We followed that with a terrific jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. That evening we bussed to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts to hear an address by Ken Burns, who did that marvelous PBS series on jazz.
Day 3 started late morning with a presentation of Living Below Sea Level with Nellie Watson, a New Orleans native and environmental architect. It was an interesting overview of what happened in Katrina and the rebuilding. In the afternoon we visited Tremé, the city’s oldest African American neighborhood, with stops at St. Augustine Church and the Backstreet Cultural Museum. We were then treated to an unexpected extra performance of great musicians and dancers in a courtyard around the corner.
Later we heard an outstanding performance by Donald Harrison, The King of Nouveau Swing. The exciting concert ended up with the entrance of three Indian Chiefs in their huge colorful costumes. What a treat!
That night we had a great dinner on our own at the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street.
Day 4 started with a visit to the U.S. Mint’s Jazz Theater and a viewing of jazz artifacts. Then it was on to South Rampart Street and the Little Gem Saloon with lunch and Doreen’s Jazz Band. She was terrific!
After lunch we toured the scenic Garden District, the Basin Street Station, and the St. Louis Cemetery, where we learned about the jazz funerals, an iconic tradition of New Orleans, and the function of the “second line” of informal participants at every funeral.
That night we ate on the Steamboat Natchez and were entertained by the oldest Dixieland jazz band, The Dukes of Dixieland, and Doreen again on clarinet, along with her tuba player, trumpeter and drummer. It was great!
Day 5, at our final breakfast, we heard a delightful talk by Lolis Eric Elie, a native of Tremé and a staff writer for the outstanding PBS series of the same name.
What a great weekend and a wonderful treat.
This was a Tauck special event and well done as usual for them.
THE RULERS OF JAZZ:
- Scott Joplin, 1868-1917, piano
- Buddy Bolden, 1868-1931, cornet
- C. Handy, 1873-1958, cornet
- Jelly Roll Morton, 1885-1941, piano
- Bessie Smith, 1894-1937, singer
- Duke Ellington, 1899-1974, piano
- Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971, trumpet
- Bix Beiderbecke, 1903-1931, cornet, piano
- Fats Waller, 1904-1943, piano
- Count Basie, 1904-1984, piano, organ
- Earl “Fatha” Hines, 1905-1983, piano
- Stéphane Grappelli, 1908-1997, violin
- Lionel Hampton, 1908-2002, vibes, drums, piano
- Lester Young, 1909-1959, tenor sax
- Gene Krupa, 1909-1973, drums
- Benny Goodman, 1909-1986, clarinet
- Django Reinhardt, 1910-1953, guitar
- Billie Holiday, 1915-1959, singer
- Frank Sinatra, 1915-1998, singer
- Dizzy Gillespie, 1917-1993, trumpet
- Ella Fitzgerald, 1918-1996, singer
- Joe Williams, 1918-1999, singer
- Charlie Parker, 1920-1955, alto sax
- Thelonious Monk, 1917-1982, piano
- Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012, piano
- Wes Montgomery, 1923-1968, guitar
- Sarah Vaughan, 1924-1990, singer
- Oscar Peterson, 1925-2007, piano
- John Coltrane, 1926-1967, tenor sax
- Miles Davis, 1926-1991, trumpet
- Stan Getz, 1927-1991, tenor sax
- Antonio Carlos Jobim, 1927-1994, songwriter
- Bill Evans, 1929-1980, piano
- Chet Baker, 1929-1988, trumpet
- Sonny Rollins, 1929-, tenor sax
- Bobby McFerrin, 1950-, singer
- Wynton Marsalis, 1961-, trumpet
And not to be left out:
- Art Tatum, 1909-1956, piano
- Stan Kenton, 1911-1979, big band
- Art Blakey, 1919-1990, drummer
- Charlie Mingus, 1922-1979, bass
- Herbie Hancock, 1940-, piano