Bob French, longtime Original Tuxedo Jazz Band leader and WWOZ deejay, has died

Publication: The Times-Picayune
Author: Keith Spera
Date: November 12, 2012

Robert “Bob” French Sr., the longtime leader and drummer of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band and an outspoken, at times controversial, WWOZ-FM deejay, died on Monday, Nov. 12, after a long illness. He was 74.

Mr. French last performed with the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band in the summer of 2011. Afflicted with dementia and suffering from diabetes-related complications, he then moved into an assisted-living facility.
Mr. French grew up immersed in the traditional sounds of New Orleans. His father, banjo player Albert “Papa” French, took over the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band in the 1950s after the death of Oscar “Papa” Celestin, who founded the group in 1910.

As a young man, Mr. French rejected his father’s music in favor of rhythm and blues. His first gig in 1954 included Art and Charles Neville and piano wizard James Booker. One day, Papa French recruited his son to fill in for the Original Tuxedo’s ailing drummer. Bob French was so mortified by his sloppy performance that he committed himself to a proper study of traditional New Orleans jazz.

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Submitted by Courtney on November 13th, 2012 — 09:12am

Branford Marsalis embraces his live shows

Publication: Des Moines Register
Author: Joe Lawler
Date: November 11, 2012 

“It was great to see your concert.” Branford Marsalis hears that kind of compliment regularly, and as a musician, it used to perplex him a bit — that people were there to see him, not to hear him.

But now he understands that people listen to records but want to see a performer live on stage, and he wishes more jazz musicians would take that to heart.

“People hear with their eyes,” Marsalis said during a phone interview. “You watch a lot of jazz musicians play now, and they don’t look like they’re into it. Someone will finish a solo and stare at their nails while another guy is soloing. I’m not talking about a dance show, but just sitting around doesn’t really suit what we’re trying to do.”

Marsalis said his quartet doesn’t plan out what it is going to do on stage. When pianist Joey Calderazzo stands up while performing, it’s because he’s feeling it in a song. When drummer Justin Fauklner gets his arms and legs moving like crazy, it’s to make sure the music is moving at the proper beat. But it’s a lot more entertaining to watch than four men calmly playing their instruments. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 12th, 2012 — 01:50pm

Marsalis, jazz quartet wow crowd

Publication: Omaha World-Herald
Author: Todd von Kampen
Date: November 10, 2012

Three numbers into a brilliant 90-minute set Friday night, Branford Marsalis had a confession to make: The saxophonist and the rest of his jazz quartet hadn’t played together since September.

Their so-called rust hardly showed, but the foursome’s considerable musical skills account for only part of the reason. The rest of their formula reflected what Marsalis’ brother Wynton once famously told documentary master Ken Burns: At its best, jazz amounts to an ongoing dialogue among musicians, with their instruments as the voices.

Branford and his mates gave the Holland Performing Arts Center audience a master class on the subject. They played only eight identifiable pieces (including Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing” as the encore), but as Marsalis explained: “All we do is take our time. No rush.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 12th, 2012 — 12:18pm

In Cape May, the show must go on

Publication: WHYY Newsworks
Author: Jen A. Miller
Date: November 7, 2012

In August 2005, Michael Kline and his son packed up their belongings and drove straight through the night from New Orleans to Cape May, N.J.

The morning after they arrived in N.J., Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans. 

Maybe I’m bringing them with me,” he said after living through both Hurricanes Irene and Sandy in Cape May, where Kline had spent his childhood summers and lived full time from 1983 to 1992.

He also hopes he’ll bring some positive New Orleans history and flavor to the Jersey Shore with the first Exit Zero International Jazz Festival, which will take place in Cape May this weekend.

While the town was largely spared Sandy’s wrath, the musicians playing in the festival have not. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 8th, 2012 — 12:03pm

Branford Marsalis returns to Holland

Publication: Omaha World-Herald
Author: Kevin Coffey
Date: November 8, 2012

The last time Branford Marsalis was in town, he stopped in to jam with some friends.

The time before that, the jazz master helped open the Holland Performing Arts Center.

On Friday, Marsalis and his quartet will come back to the venue to play music from his new album, “Four MF’s Playin’ Tunes,” as well as old favorites.

“We go all over the place. It depends on the audience, what they can listen to,” he told The World-Herald. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 8th, 2012 — 12:28pm