The Music of New Orleans
Well, come on everybody take a trip with me… way down the Mississippi, down in New Orleans!
Sidney Bechet – Summertime
The classic Gershwin tune. Bichet beat Louis Armstong to be the first important jazz soloist recorded, and also remains one of the finest jazz clarinetists of all time. His wide vibrato was trademark, along with forceful delivery, and well conceived improvisational ideas. He makes the
clarinet soprano saxophone reed growl on this somber rendition of ‘Summertime’.
Kid Ory – Tiger Rag
This’ll probably remind you of the comprehensive Ken Burns Jazz Special. Kid Ory was a pioneer of New Orleans music, leading a band in 1911 as a trombonist. He collorated with Sidney Bechet (the two fought often for lead), Jelly Roll Morton, and a young Louis Armstrong. He retired from music to run a chicken farm, but returned by request of Orson Wells to record this scorching ‘Tiger Rag’.
Clarence “Frogman” Henry – Ain’t Got No Home
Very early one summer morning, Clarence Henry was performing on the bandstand and improvised his way into the basic riff behind “Ain’t Got No Home”. The crowd responded favorably, so he developed it further. Soon, Chess Records A&R was hustling Henry into Cosimo Matassa’s studio in September of 1956 to record. Local DJ Poppa Stoppa laid the “Frogman” handle on the youngster when he spun the catchy 45 and it stuck.
Snooks Eaglin – When They Ring Them Golden Bells
Although New Orleans is generally thought of as more of a jazz and R&B town, the streets of the Crescent City also gave birth to a quite different strain of the music. The Acoustic New Orleans Blues style embraces everything from itinerant street singers and guitarists to rag-tag “spasm” bands. The blind Snooks Eaglin was known as a human jukebox inside the town, being able to pull hundreds of songs out from his eclectic repetoire, often confusing his own band.
Dixie Cups – Iko Iko
Although they’re best known for “Chapel of Love”, the Dixie Cups wrote ‘Iko Iko’ quite accidentally. After the musicians had gone home from a recording session, the women were doing some overdubbing and started singing “Iko Iko” among themselves, using only a chair, drumstick, Coke bottle, ashtray, and drums as accompaniment. And although its roots are identified with New Orleans celebratory rituals, the song emerged as a quirky pop hit.
Lee Dorsey – Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further?
Lee Dorsey epitomized the loose, easygoing charm of New Orleans R&B perhaps more than any other artist of the ’60s. Working with legendary Crescent City producer Allen Toussaint, Dorsey typically made good-time party tunes with a playful sense of humor and a funky, gunnagetcha backbeat. The bassline here is infectiously evil.
Louisiana Gator Boys & The Blues Brothers – New Orleans
More of a tribute song than an authetic NOLA piece. From The Blues Brothers 2000, this track was the finale for the musical journey. It features a modest lineup: B.B. King, Junior Wells, Steve Lawrence, Taj Mahal, Lonnie Brooks, Eric Clapton, Nia Peeples, Darrell Hammond, Steve Winwood, Eddie Floyd, Paul Shaffer, Billy Preston, Koko Taylor, Bo Diddley, Isaac Hayes, Joshua Redman, Lou Rawls, Travis Tritt, Jimmie Vaughan, and Dr. John.
New Orleans music from the Aurgasm archives (mp3’s back up!):
Professor Longhair 1970’s new orleans funk // piano rhumba
The Meters 1970’s new orleans r&b // funk // soul
Rebirth Brass Band 1990’s new orleans brass band
Other blogs covering the NOLA music scene:
Home of the Groove always showcased The Big Easy’s musical output
Jazz And Conversation offers up a mix of the spirit of New Orleans
The Entroporium has a number of choice Nola tracks
Soul-Sides rep’s some Allen Toussaint and The Meters
IckMusic has some essential Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Cocaine Blunts threw together the best of New Orleans Bounce