Bob French 1938-2012 – A Fleeting but Memorable Acquaintance

Longtime Original Tuxedo Jazz Band drummer and leader Bob French who died on Monday, 12th November, 2012. (Photo © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

There are so many great jazz musicians with whom I have made only fleeting acquaintances over the years, made all the more memorable when I learn of their passing. Earlier this year I covered the death of “Uncle” Lionel Batiste who so warmly welcomed my wife and I to Tréme’s Candlelight Lounge. And now I want to pay my respects to another great New Orleans drummer, Bob French, who died age 74 on 12th November.

It’s not my place to add to the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s wonderful obituary for Bob. But I do wish to mention how pleased I was to brush shoulders with him in The Palm Court Jazz Cafe back in April, 2010. To mark that occasion I’ve included a photo I took of him in his typical low key style on the drums. “His drumming technique was extremely efficient; his arms hardly moved as his wrists and hands did all the work.”

Of his fans Bob once said: “They can do anything they want except mess with the musicians’ instruments. If they’re having a good time, Bob’s having a good time. If you’ve got a dancing audience, they’re easy to play to — they’re entertaining themselves.”

Perhaps clubs and bands could learn something from that as we enter 2013.

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