“Defining New Orleans” – A Trending Debate on Jazzers


I want to share with subscribers to Jazz&Jazz a “debate”, or rather an exchange of views, currently trending on my Facebook Jazzers Group, as I believe it bears relevance, not just to defining jazz, but to the current status of jazz. I present the debate here, edited where necessary to make sense of the Facebook “idiom”. If you would like to contribute to the debate but are not on Facebook you can do so in “Speak Your Mind”, the comments section at the foot of this Post. In fact I would prefer that you use this to air your views
rather than Facebook.

Sean Moyses initiated the debate with this comment:
I have heard the term “Strict New Orleans” several times since moving back to the UK. One gentleman actually walked off rather disgruntled after I said there was nothing of the sort. I think he meant Ken Colyer copy bands. To me New Orleans music is a mish-mash of all styles, not a particular style. If however I was to pick a band from New Orleans that currently perform and who I rate highly it would be this lot….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suPA12Q4ysM


Peter Mark Butler: Sean, I had the huge privileged of getting together with Tuba Skinny at Fest Jazz last year, of filming them for YouTubes, and meeting Erika and Robin. I’ve posted several YouTubes of them playing at Fest Jazz on Jazz&Jazz with more to come. (Simply enter Tuba Skinny in Search Jazz&Jazz – right hand column. Also search for “The Bardi Manchot” an up and coming band from Toulouse, France, in the style of Tuba Skinny).

John A Dixon joined the debate with this YouTube of: “Shotgun and Tuba Skinny”, playing together in New Orleans.

Peter Mark Butler: Who says jazz is dead! The future is formidable!

Sean Moyses: I’ll be seeing them at Jazz Fest this year when I go over to New Orleans to do a banjo gig, looking forward that. Jazz needs this fresh approach, especially in the UK, badly.

Peter Mark Butler: I spoke to Erika and Robin in Brittany about them coming to the UK. How can I put this? Jazz UK simply cannot currently put the necessary package together! Despite the fact that, doubtless, we have a resurgence of younger bands which could not only play alongside them but match their prowess!

Pamela Turner: Brilliant, love them.

Sean Moyses: They would find the UK jazzers very different to their usual customers….

Andrew Bowie: Saxophone? Dirty boppers!

Sean Moyses: oooh!!! “modern!!!” saxophones…..barrrr humbug!!! I know what you mean, Peter. I cannot imagine a retirement home/jazz club audience getting as excited about this as the Vintage Antique Hot Stomper Jazzmen, who they know they can dance too, very, very slowly, for a fiver all night. However, I personally DO enjoy the music of the Tuba Skinny band very very much. Best way is to get them over here and see.

Peter Mark Butler: Sean, I agree totally, but as I inferred above, at present this is a long shot! But in the circumstances I’ve posted a brand new feature (“Blood Thirsty Blues”) on Jazz&Jazz with a YouTube I filmed of them at Fest Jazz, Brittany, last year and I’ve linked this to Erika Lewis. Erika, despite past exchanges, I, we in the UK are still living in hopes – perhaps you will meet up with Sean in New Orleans during Jazz Fest.

Peter Mark Butler: Trevor Stent – you might be interested in this exchange! Again, thanks for the opportunity to video for YouTubes at the Festival last year and wishing you huge success this year. You’ve got a great line up of bands which I’ll feature on Jazz&Jazz very soon.

Sean Moyses: Well done Peter on your initiative!

Louis Lince: Sean, It’s a rhythm thing. You can tell a New Orleans band by the rhythm and that wonderful backbeat – whether it’s “trad”, funk or whatever. Just listen to the Neville Brothers or the Meters or Dumpstafunk. At this stage, I’m running for cover but as you rightly say IT’S MUSIC.

Sean Moyses: You and I agree Louis. Each country has a certain groove when it comes to musical rhythm.

Peter Mark Butler: In the April issue of Just Jazz Magazine Jim McIntosh ran an editorial on “Frumpy … that’s how JUST JAZZ was recently referred to!”. With his and Pete Lay’s permission I featured this on Jazz&Jazz outlining my views about Social Media et al. I also stated that whilst I like Trad & Mainstream (but not extreme Modern), my overall preference is New Orleans Revivalist Jazz. “FRUMPY … that’s how JUST JAZZ was recently referred to!”

Sean Moyses: Interesting Peter. I have yet to see that issue of just jazz. So what banner do Tuba Skinny fall under?

Peter Mark Butler: Recapturing early jazz and blues – the soul of the 1920s/30s – plus some of their own compositions in keeping. They are unique, especially amongst todays bands. Yet how about this: https://www.jazzandjazz.com/?p=12470

Toulouse based "Le Bardi Manchot"

Toulouse based “Le Bardi Manchot”

Plus I list a number of our “New Generation Bands” at: https://www.jazzandjazz.com/?p=10265

On my Jazzers Group I urge fans: “”SUPPORT JAZZ – GET INVOLVED!” This very debate is what I call getting involved!

Sean Moyses: I’m right with you Peter. The problem is the jazz clubs attract (in general) older people, and younger people want to go out drinking and dancing with their own age groups so when younger bands play in places their contemporaries go to it’s generally a “hit”. This is great music and it still works. I used to play with a pianist in a student pub in Germany and it was full every Thursday. We played jazz and rags, in fact anything we felt like, piano and banjo, and it was a huge success. When we took the act to other places a bit more “traditional” all of those students (in general) stayed away. The way forward is to support and activate the interest in any way possible. For that support Peter, well done!

Peter Mark Butler: Thank you, Sean. I truly appreciate your encouragement. Although they do play the clubs, the “younger” bands have their own followings – younger fans – in their own venues mainly in London, Liverpool etc – with dancing. I feature them on Jazz&Jazz whenever the opportunity arises and will continue to do so. I also feature them on my YouTubes as much as possible: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbyqlX9cd5D7h2FpXsdS7BQ.

Trevor Stent: An important point is that the younger bands, which Peter indefatiguably encourages, sound “different” to bands in the heyday of Trad in the 50’s and early 60’s. For me this is not a problem at all, in fact I welcome it. New sounds, new numbers (endless Chimes Blues/Tin Roof Blues/Indiana etc are not heard so much) and I find this refreshing too. The 1950’s have finished…get over it!

Peter Mark Butler: Tuba Skinny “Dangerous Blues” filmed at Fest Jazz, 2014: http://goo.gl/3XW0Qw

Peter Mark Butler: Also Joan Chamorro’s youthful Sant Andreu Jazz Band: http://goo.gl/S34hcW

NOTE: Jazzers everywhere, every age, whoever you are, band leader, musician, club manager, festival organiser or fan – whatever your age, whatever your musical inclination, why not join in this debate by adding your comments below. Plus if you are a member of my Facebook Jazzers Group, including them there!
Don’t just sit back and watch Jazz pass 
you by, get involved!


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  1. Phil Probert says:

    I agree 100% with Trevor Stent. This obsession with the Colyer thing is a form of acute constipation that’s been afflicting British Jazz for far too long. But we don’t have to surrender to it. For the past year I’ve been taking a trio to ostensibly “trad” jazz audiences, and playing them a mix of music from Jelly Roll Morton, via Hank Williams, Warren Zevon and even Elvis Presley! You should hear them sing along! If you play people good melodies that swing, and especially if you give them a chance to join in, you may not see one or two of them at the next session, but the rest will come back for more. Why? Because it’s FUN.

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Thanks, Phil. I’ve now featured this on Facebook Jazzers, so as a regular contributor you could repeat your comment there. Despite striving to steer folks to commenting on this site it seems Facebook is the easier option for them.

  3. GODFREY MILLS says:

    Always somebody mentions the Trad Era the music was mainly Dixieland with a bit of Vic Dickenson, Buck Clayton, Duke Ellington thrown in. I played this style for about 10 years. I also played skiffle, country dance music, ballroom dance music, Dudley Moore style trio and what is known as New Orleans style. I have enjoyed playing all these different kinds of music. There is one thing which is the common denominator that is swing, the music has to do this whatever style.The musicians have to attain this within their band, if they don’t then apathy sets in which is transmitted to the audience and then the performance is lost. So really to put labels on musical performances is wrong. Someone said that once you get an audience to sing along with you you’ve got them in the palm of your hand. All musicians need to remember this before they get on stage. PLAY JAZZ IT ALL COMES FROM THE HEART NO MATTER WHAT STYLE!

  4. Jim McIntosh says:

    Well said Godfrey Mills. I personally fail to see how anything necessarily swings just because it comes from NEW ORLEANS. Take the Shotgun Jazz Band (from N.O.) – they SWING – mainly on account of an ex-Welsh Guard by the name of James Evans, and their leader who hails from Toronto! And they play from the heart!! Up the MK Dons!!

  5. Jim McIntosh says:

    I find the phrase ‘This obsession with the Colyer thing…’ a wee bit naughty. We must and should respect our Jazz Messiahs, one of which Ken certainly was. Whilst I appreciate the need to ‘move on’ we must remember that without these heroes (how many people would jump ship to get to New Orleans?) would there be any interest in the music anyway? The answer is probably yes, but we should not insult those that will still be remembered and hallowed long after we are all DEAD and (mostly) FORGOTTEN!!!

  6. Jim McIntosh says:

    AND…Brit Trevor Stent has a great swinging entertaining jazz band from France – a long way from New Orleans and all those beads. A long time ago in Germany, Monty Sunshine, Max Collie etc used to play with (direct from New Orleans) Champion Jack Dupree – who didn’t actually need the false publicity – he was fantastic anyway! What is it with this New Orleans thing? I play good old British Trad, and whilst smoking with Manny Sayles behind Preservation Hall, he would say to me, “Don’t talk jazz or banjo, but I’m sure Johnny St. Cyr would have been proud of you anyway…”

  7. Peter Butler says:

    Hornets’ Nest or not, lets keep the debate going!

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