Posts in the JAZZ category


Al BellettoBelletto was born January 3, 1928 in New Orleans. He attended Warren Easton High School, and studied music at Loyola University as an undergraduate before getting his masters in music at Louisiana State University. As a teenager, he was already working as a professional musician, playing on Bourbon Street and often backing up the burlesque dancers. He played with Louis Prima, Sharkey Bonano, Wingy Manone and the Dukes of Dixieland. Although he liked traditional jazz, he was attracted to the new modern sounds of bebop, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. There was not much of a scene for this in New Orleans, so he moved to New York.

In New York, Belletto became friends with Mel Torme. Torme, who had first heard him while passing through Biloxi, got him signed to a booking agent, and introduced Belletto to Stan Kenton. Kenton got Belletto signed to Capitol Records, where he recorded The Al Belletto Sextette in 1955, Half and Half in 1956, and Whisper Not in 1957. These recordings were a swinging mix of the instrumental colors and cool sounds of West Coast jazz and the hard bebop of the East Coast. He had a minor hit with the song “Relaxin’” which became the theme to Dick Martin’s jazz program “Moonglow With Martin” on WWL 870-AM radio. Despite good reviews, the band was scuffling by until they met Woody Herman, who absorbed the sextet into his own Thundering Herd and then took them on a U.S. State Department tour of Central and South America in 1957.

By 1961, Belletto was back in New Orleans working as the musical and entertainment director of the Playboy Club. He broke the color line by hiring bassist Richard Payne, an African American, to play the club. When this displeased the local and state authorities, who threatened to sue, Belletto called Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who apparently said, “Let ’em sue us. I’ve got better lawyers than the state of Louisiana.” Belletto continued hiring African-American musicians such as James Black, Ellis Marsalis, Alvin Batiste, Nat Perilliat and Earl Turbinton to play at the club. This was not the first time that Belletto had defied the racial barriers of the day. In the ’50s, he had been arrested for playing onstage at the Texas Lounge on Canal Street with Earl Palmer. Johnny Vidacovich, who played with Belletto starting in the late 1960s, recalls, “He went straight up chest to chest with all that bullshit. He was way ahead when it came to the racial game. He stood up for equal rights in black cats getting paid the same amount as the white cats. And he did that by hiring black cats to play the Playboy Club. That was pretty brazen at the time.”

Also in 1968, he was a member of the original New Orleans Jazz Festival board, and he made sure that the policy of the festival was that black musicians would get the same compensation as the white musicians. Belletto was also a board member of the local Musicians Union 174-495, and he was a founding member of the French Quarter Festival. He was Al Hirt’s bandleader in the 1980s, and provided the band for Bob Hope’s 81st birthday TV special.

Belletto also was known for his attitude as well as his playing. Trombonist Rick Trolsen, who played with him for several decades, said, “Al was capital ‘C’ Cool. When he got on the horn, he was all there. He wasn’t fucking around. He put 100 percent into everything he played. And it was always fun. There wasn’t any bullshit onstage. If he felt that something needed to be said, then he would say it, but very diplomatically. He was a consummate professional.”

In addition, Belletto supported musicians off the bandstand. Pianist David Torkanowsky remembers him as being “extremely generous. He mentored me and got me into the Playboy Club when I was underage so I could hear some jazz. And when I went to Boston to go to Berklee, he arranged for me to get a Playboy Gold credit card so that when I was too broke to eat in Boston, I could go to the Playboy Club to get something to eat. He was elegant and soulful and he played a funky, swinging saxophone.” Vidacovich agrees: “The comedians and singers who would come through the Playboy Club traveled the circuit and stayed for two weeks. On our Sunday nights off, Al would have them over for dinner, and his momma, who was pure Italian, made this red gravy—boy! Everybody working the Playboy Clubs knew that when they came to New Orleans, Al Belletto would take care of you.”

Belletto’s final recording would be 1997’s Jazznocracy, recorded at New Orleans Christ Church Cathedral.

Taken from David Kunian’s obituary in Offbeat Magazine, here.


Dumpstaphunk 2BIO

Dumpstaphunk stands out among New Orleans’ best as one of the funkiest bands to ever arise from the Crescent City. Born on the Jazz & Heritage Festival stage, and descended from Neville family bloodlines, these soldiers of funk ignite a deep, gritty groove that dares listeners not to move. Their performances combine ingenious musicianship and complex funk and jazz arrangements with soulful melodies that are simple enough for anyone to enjoy. In Big Easy tradition, dueling baselines from Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III set off one of the dirtiest rhythm sections on the planet, while Ivan Neville lights up the Hammond B3 keys and cousin Ian Neville’s funky guitar riffs send the groove into overdrive. The band recently welcomed their newest member, Alvin Ford Jr. to the quintet, a New Orleans born and raised powerhouse drummer. Dumpstaphunk tosses around lead vocals and four-part harmonies the way Sly & the Family Stone did, but with three studio albums under their belt, Dumpstaphunk stands on the merit of their own material. Songs like “Dancin’ To The Truth” off their latest record, Dirty Word (July 30, 2013, Louisiana Red Hot Records), offer an escape into the funky sublime, sharing the true spirit of New Orleans with every note.


“I don’t expect to hear anything funkier this year.” – Jon Pareles, New York Times

“[A] jackpot of a funk record from Dumpstaphunk.” – WNYC

“Dumpstaphunk’s self-produced sonic approach feels live, nasty, and greasy. The band’s writing celebrates community, self-reliance, and social responsibility.” – iTunes

“Dumpstaphunk’s ‘If I’m In Luck’ brings the bass… boasts a fiery lead vocal from drummer Nikki Glaspie” – USA Today

“Funksters and those who relish solid musicianship and incredible vocal harmonies can just be glad that an album like Dirty Word is still being made — that the ‘one nation under a groove’ remains vital. It’s a head noddin’, booty shakin’ disc…” – Louisiana Weekly

“If Dumpstaphunk was a 3 course meal it would start with a juicy rhythm section, then move on to a beautiful arrangement of guitars and keys, seasoned with some soulful vocals and add a pinch of Cosmic Slop for good measure.” – Austin Chronicle

“Dirty Word offers a remarkably fresh update on a sometimes neglected genre.” – Mix Magazine

“[Dirty Word] stands on its own as the harbinger of a new style of 21st century funk.” – The Vinyl District

“Dumpstaphunk has grown from a small side project into one of New Orleans’ most prestigious modern funk ensembles.” – Rolling Stone




Born in July 1975, Henry grew up on Barracks Street just down from Little People’s Club, a now shuttered popularized spot for second line parade stops in the Treme. Henry was the third child born to a family of five boys and two girls. His grandfather Chester Jones played bass drum in a traditional jazz band at Preservation Hall. His uncle is Bennie Jones of the world renowned Treme Brass Band. “Being in Treme was my biggest inspiration, being around all that music at once. We always had brass bands playing – the Pinstripes, Olympia, the Dirty Dozen. I’d go outside and they’d be playing a party or doing a second line. I got inspired by that and of course it’s in my family, my uncle and grandfather.”

As a result of this unique environment, Henry didn’t learn his craft in the school band the way many other brass band musicians in New Orleans learn. Treme was his music classroom; family members and neighbors on every block were his teachers. “I always had people like Tuba Fats giving me tips on what I needed to do during gigs; Freddie Kemp, sax player with Fats Domino; also Stack Man, Frederick Shepard, Roderick Lewis. They all lived in the neighborhood and played with the Treme Brass Band.

Henry started on the snare drum but switched over to the trombone at the age of 10. When he turned 16, his uncle Bennie hired him to play with the Treme Brass Band. “He just threw me in the mix with all those bad musicians, said ‘This is how you gon’ learn. Just go for it.’ So I learned doing it live, not during rehearsals. It was like learning on the job.” Showing him the ropes along with his uncle was trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. “They put me with a lot of musicians who were phenomenal, taught me a lot about stage presence, how to conduct yourself, coming to gigs on time.” He counts legendary trombonists Keith ‘Wolf’ Anderson and Revert Andrews as mentors who helped him develop his unique sound. “It was these two different musicians showing me things and me listening and practicing and just researching, being hungry and eager to learn.”

With “Lapeitah,” his national debut from Louisiana Red Hot Records, Henry reveals a signature playing style with the capacity to lead a band with its own muscular voice, his trombone blasting through the crowd like a fast-coming train, charging audiences with fire and excitement.



Leroy JonesBIO

The legendary jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones is known to music lovers as the “keeper of the flame” for traditional New Orleans jazz and to critics as one of the top musicians ever produced by the Crescent City.

“The mission of the Leroy Jones Quintet is to expose audiences everywhere to the authentic music of New Orleans, the music of Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Danny Barker and all the other greats who have helped create the rich gumbo that is the sound of New Orleans,” he says, “while putting our own more modern stamp on it.”

Jones himself, a native of New Orleans, whose playing has been described as a blend of Louis Armstrong and bebop virtuoso Clifford Brown, has been a critical figure in the history of New Orleans music.

A member of the New Orleans Jazz Hall of Fame, he was leader at the tender age of 12, of the seminal Fairview Band, a brass band whose alumni have included some of the best known musicians in New Orleans. It was the Fairview Brass Band which is widely credited with restoring interest in the brass band tradition of New Orleans. Today, in fact, New Orleans has more brass bands performing than at any time in the city’s history – an achievement that can be traced back directly to the Fairview Band and its successor the Leroy Jones Hurricane Brass Brand.

A regular at Preservation Hall in New Orleans and a featured performer in the Harry Connick Orchestra, where his playing and singing have made him a crowd favorite, Leroy has performed on every continent and in every major U.S. city at prestigious theaters, festivals and jazz clubs like the Village Vanguard in New York City. His television appearances include The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, Late Night with David Letterman, The Today Show, Arsenio Hall, Conan O’Brien and Oprah Winfrey. He is also a regular at the world famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as French Quarter Fest and the Satchmo Summerfest.


“It was really early in the day and Leroy Jones was playing trumpet. I don’t know what he was playing but it was achingly beautiful; I literally felt my body responding. It was so soft and melodic and catchy and just right and my eyes welled with tears and I was pretty sure if I died right then and there, it would have been a life worth living.” – Chris Rose, Times-Picayune

“…Leroy Jones, a supurb trumpeter who tossed off traditional New Orleans Jazz lines and modernist runs.” – Jon Pareles, New York Times

“…his improvising, either in a New Orleans mold or in the Fats Navarro style, had its own grace and humor.” – Peter Watrous, New York Times

“The big hat goes off to trumpeter and singer Leroy Jones, whose clean, flowing set managed to get the audience clapping along… Leroy Jones avoids the defensive attitude present in much of today’s retro jazz and makes listening to the music something it frankly often is not: fun.” – Boston Globe

“…from the moment he stepped onstage, Jones himself was the real crowd-pleaser. Like Louis Armstrong, his principal role model, he can make entertainment of art and art of entertainment with seemingly no effort.” – Washington Post

“His playing was as memorable as his appearance. It swung from the traditional, fiery New Orleans lead trumpet to fluent late bebop… without the slightest sense of strain or incongruity.” – The Observer (London)

“Leroy Jones expresses himself in the very classical style of New Orleans… density, clarity, fine paused notes…” – La Samaine Des Spectacles Cannes (France)

“We’re not going to hide anything: We loved it. It’s soul; it’s warm; it’s all jazz.” – Nord Éclair (France)

“Jones eventually evolved from a brash street player into one of the Crescent City’s most articulate trumpeters, as his three fine releases in the ’90s — Mo’ Cream From The Crop, Props For Pops (Columbia) and City Of Sounds (Louisiana Red Hot), demonstrate. His jovial, swinging attack — complemented by deft mute technique and infectious, gospel-flavored vocals — evokes Armstrong, but also reflects a broad historical spectrum…” – Jonathan Tabak, Down Beat

“Louis Armstrong is alive and well in [this] trumpeter…. [He] plays a clean, take-your-time, declaritive lead throughout…. The rhythm section is infectious… uncluttered, uplifting and respectful of tradition.” – Jazz Times

“Leroy Jones’ City of Sounds features the veteran trumpeter at his best, a pure tone at turns delicate and tough, with lyrical flights that leave the melodies floating through one’s thoughts after the CD is back in its case.” – Jason Berry, New Orleans Magazine

“…both his vocals and trumpet parts are imbued with an accessable, generous helping of upbeat pleasure. And that sort of showmanship is an essential element of Armstrong’s legacy that too many of his musical grandchildren overlook.” – Washington Post

Visit Leroy Jones’ website here.


Dave JordanBIO

Since exploding onto the New Orleans scene in 1998, Juice has made a name for themselves as one of the premier national touring acts from New Orleans legendary funk scene. Through nearly constant touring and good, old fashioned word of mouth, Juice has built a solid national fan base, and received strong critical acclaim for their creative, original mix of New Orleans style funk, blues, second line, rock and rhythm and blues. Besides maintaining their presence on the New Orleans club scene, they have averaged a jaw dropping 160 shows a year since 1999. They have performed at some of the premier festivals, theaters and clubs in the country with highlight performances at the 2000 & 2001 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival- widely considered the premier music festival in the U.S.

Founded by bassist/vocalist Dave Jordan in 1996 at L.S.U., Juice quickly claimed the mantle of the then burgeoning jam band scene in Baton Rouge. Already a mainstay on the local music scene (Jordan’s previous band had performed with the likes of Widespread Panic, Aquarium Rescue Unit, George Porter, the Samples and more),Juice shifted their immediate focus to the Southeastern college circuit. After a year and a half of local touring, Jordan took the band back to his hometown of New Orleans, where Dave’s longtime collaborator, harmonica/vocalist Jamie Galloway, had already relocated.

Upon arrival in New Orleans in April ‘98, Juice quickly made a splash by landing a weekly gig at world famous Tipitina’s for a two-month stretch that summer. By September, they were recording their debut CD, Fortified, which was independently released in March 1999. Keeping in their live philosophy of musical spontaneity, the recording quickly became a “Who’s Who” of the thriving, young New Orleans funk scene. Various members of local stalwarts All That, Mulebone and Iris May Tango, among others, madeFortified 9 tracks and 55 minutes of Juice’s unique blend of swampy funk, jazz and rock- one of the most unique releases of the year.

In August of ’99, drummer Aron Lambert joined the band after returning home from 4 years in the Nashville music scene, and immediately the sound of the band shifted from a jam oriented, college-party band to the more sophisticated, syncopated sounds of New Orleans that have since become Juice’s trademark. It also marked the beginning of the whirlwind tour schedule that continues today.

By early 2000, Juice was gaining a stellar reputation for their amazing musical diversity, as well as their 3+ hour marathon shows. In true New Orleans tradition, their penchant for late night jamming (sometimes until the sun came up), earned them a loyal following in the jam band scene and in February 2000, An Honest Tune Magazine– the Southern Journal of Jam- joined forces to throw a series of Widespread Panic after parties. In April 2000, New Orleans-based Louisiana Red Hot Records re-released Fortified just in time for their inaugural performance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

By the time 2000 was nearing an end, the national buzz on the band was growing. With tours up the East Coast and multiple tours out West under their belt, Juice were being compared to many of their musical influences, including legendary bands like the Meters and Little Feat- both of whom they had by now performed with. Once again, in true New Orleans tradition their shows attracted acclaimed musicians both locally and nationally. Always willing to take musical chances, they have joined or been joined onstage for impromptu jams by past and present members of the Funky Meters, Widespread Panic, ReBirth and Dirty Dozen Brass Bands, String Cheese Incident, Sly & the Family Stone, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, Galactic, Ozomatli, North Mississippi All Stars, Soulive, Papa Grows Funk and many more.


“…next kings of New Orleans style funk.” – LSU’s Daily Reveille

“… jazz, funk, rhythm and blues…taking these roots genres in exciting new directions.” – Billboard Magazine

“Juice delivers the goods… the funk grooves deep and the jams stretch long, often crossing several musical boundaries within one song.” – New Orleans’ Where Ya’at Magazine

“…If Fortified is an indication of where Juice is headed, we’ve got much more to look forward to.” – An Honest Tune Magazine

“Impressive and terrifically snug debut CD.” – Baton Rouge’s Gambit Magazine

“They have garnered much attention as the band to jam with…no frills, no fancy effects. Just the real, raw deal.” – Telluride Weekly

“Adding further variety, Juice is also capable of turning itself into a virtual Little Feat clone, spewing spicy blues as fiery guitar leads clamor for space amidst the drum heavy mix and harmonica melts around the song’s edges.” – The Music Box

“All Lit Up” is like having a utility player in your album collection. It’s all there. There’s harmonica-driven blues numbers, funk forways into the elastic universe of jazz, and catchy rock-n-roll tunes that harken back to the purity of the 50’s when Lee Dorsey and Fats Domino ruled the New Orleans roost.” – Smokey Mountain News

“Like a lot of funk acts, and like almost all jambands, Juice’s studio work is merely a calling card for what they do live, but even as they steer into a more main stream dircetion on this, their second CD, they don’t leave their chops or encyclopedic musical knowledge behind… It’s al ljust a blueprint, mind you, but, it’d be a wonderful world indeed if all houses were built this solidly, or rocked this hard.” – Offbeat Magazine


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