New Orleans Jazz Legends: The backstory
I believe that people often become musicians in an effort to escape what they perceive to be the mundane. I have heard stories of musicians forced to temporarily or permanently stop playing music and take up a 9 to 5 job to support their families and such. I don’t ever remember those stories being told to me with any great enthusiasm or excitement. For many musicians, it is this wanderlust toward the zestful adventure of life that inspires them to play music where clearer, easier and perhaps more lucrative professional paths could have been pursued. Compile 40 or so years of this sort of life’s experience and what results in my opinion is the potential for GREAT STORYTELLING.
Many of these elder musicians are indeed our greatest cultural treasures, having experienced rich and unique lives comprised of high highs and, unfortunately, in some cases of low lows. Their stories encompass vivid recollections involving humor, romance, love, anger, success, failure, wisdom, and hope. Think about this: How else could Louis Armstrong, a poor kid from “the hood" during America’s Jim Crow era in the 1930s have traveled as a star throughout Europe, where he spearheaded a cultural revolution, a legacy that continues to this day with many of our brass bands and rap community musicians and artists.
Enhance this sort of experience with the uniqueness of New Orleans culture, where many musicians remain a part of our everyday community (as you know star gazing, body guards, paparazzi, etc. are frowned upon here), and you wind up with colorful and inspirational stories often involving people and places we all know (or knew) personally.
Over the next several months, NOLA Art House Music will present New Orleans Jazz Legends, a series of interviews with New Orleans' most beloved and culturally significant local jazz elders. They all developed personally and professionally from humble beginnings in the neighborhoods of New Orleans. With the exception of the subjects now deceased, they continue to live here as we continue to build our beloved city. My intention was not to create a documentary on them, but to speak with each of them in a casual setting, much as a person would speak to an elder grandparent or family member about their fondest memories. In doing so I hoped to capture relevant stories that musicians, New Orleanians and lovers of New Orleans and New Orleans music could all appreciate. Regarding the musicians interviewed who are no longer with us, I hope these short videos provide a quick opportunity to see their faces and hear their voices again and be reminded why we loved them so much.
I hope you enjoy.
Edward Anderson, Producer, New Orleans Jazz Legends
Founder, NOLA Art House Music