It’s 8.15 p.m. at 726 St Peter Street in New Orleans. I’m entering the beautiful wrought iron gates of Preservation Hall, paying my $8 and getting my tickets which will allow me to pop over to Johnny White’s bar in the interval and gain re-entry. The Hall is very full and the reason for that is tonight we have a real jazz band on show – it is Tommy Sancton and his New Orleans All-Stars. On this evening, Tommy has his friend and super trumpet player Clive Wilson with Tom Fischer playing tenor sax in lieu of Freddy Lonzo who usually plays trombone with the band. The rhythm section is Frank Oxley on drums, Tom Saunders on bass and a very special treat, my favorite piano player John Royen.
The music is very, very good, the audience is enthusiastic and the sound in Preservation Hall is acoustically magic and unspoiled by amplification.
In Preservation Hall, there is a formula set in place by the elderly original musicians such as Percy Humphrey, Kid Thomas, Dee Dee Pierce and many others whose lack of physical stamina made it convenient to have solos by every band member and just a collective chorus or if you are lucky, two choruses at the end of the tune. In fact, it is rather like in the Condon fashion, rather than the Bill Russell revival style of Bunk Johnson and George Lewis.
Tom Sancton’s band plays to this formula and it a tribute to their quality that those two final choruses are so great that the audience is raised to huge enthusiasm and applause.
As Clive Wilson said to me after a very medium tempo “When You’re Smiling”, “in the old days almost no tune was played faster than this” and indeed it’s the perfect dance tempo and can swing like mad and allow for plenty of those wonderful “inner rhythms”
If you have not yet read “Songs for My Fathers” by Tom Sancton (Published by Other Press of New York) put your hand in your pocket, buy it and give yourself and emotional
Treat. Tom is one of the hopes of the continuation of our music. He, Clive Wilson, and Lars Edegran make it worth coming to New Orleans to listen to some jazz in the home of jazz.
Come and see us in New Orleans!
Source by Geoff Gilbert