As we adjust to our new publication schedule, this communication will be briefer than the last one. The major happening since then has, of course, been Carnival season, which was earlier this year than most.
The first big weekend of parades began on Friday, Jan. 25, and it was not pleasant from the point of view of weather. It was cold and rainy, causing several parades to be postponed until later in the week. The second (and biggest) weekend was much more pleasant, sunny and warm for the most part, right up to Mardi Gras day on Feb. 5. In fact, it was downright hot (80 degrees F.) for those of us walking with Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club on Fat Tuesday. Speaking of which, Pete had an especially fine group of musicians with him for the 47th edition of his parade. They included Connie Jones, Jimmy Weber and Bobby Campo, trumpets; Mike Genevay and Bob Havens, trombones; Tim Laughlin and Pete Fountain, clarinets; Tom Maggiore, tenor sax; Alan Young, guitar and vocals; Matt Perrine and Tim Paco, sousaphones; and Dicky Taylor and Bryan Barberot, drums. The big crowds loved 'em.
Another Carnival staple, the annual musical party thrown by Andrea and Gorst Du Plessis on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday, was a big success. The lovely day was matched by the fine music provided by Chris Clifton, trumpet; Brian O'Connell, clarinet; Bob Havens, trombone; Seva Venet, banjo; Chuck Badie, bass; and Ernie Elly, drums. Venet was sitting in for Les Muscutt, a regular at this event (and in attendance), who said that he has little feeling in his finger tips and is considering retirement from music. That would be a shame.
Elsewhere on the live music scene, things were pretty much as usual. Havens was busy during his first Carnival visit, but he said that other commitments will keep him from returning for French Quarter Fest or Jazzfest, where he has often performed. Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher have been appearing regularly at Donna's on Thursday nights and drawing good crowds, not surprisingly. Banu Gibson and David Boeddinghaus, along with either Connie Jones or reedman Otis Bazoon, have a new Friday night gig (9 p.m.-midnight) at the upscale Polo Lounge in the Windsor Court Hotel, at least throughout February. They also appeared at Donna's on Feb. 9. A new supper club, BeeBe's on the Lake, opened in the Lakeview neighborhood (7224 Pontchartrain Blvd.). It features live jazz on Saturday nights and a Sunday jazz brunch.
Ace bassist James Singleton, who now splits time between Los Angeles and New Orleans, was back in town Feb. 7 for a concert with his string quartet at Tulane University. The group, which includes (in addition to Singleton) Matt Rhody, violin, Helen Gillet, cello, and Dave Rebeck, viola, improvises on original compositions by the bassist and has a CD soon to appear. This is just another dimension of the wide-ranging talents of Mr. Singleton.
The Norwegian Seamen's Church, the Jazz Church in New Orleans, had its usual monthly jazz service on Sunday, Feb. 3. It featured the music of clarinetist Tommy Sancton's Trio. (Sancton, incidentally, was back for a party on Fat Tuesday with a quintet.) The church launches into its annual spring festival of performances in March with jazz services on the 2nd (Tom McDermott Quartet with Evan Christopher), 16th (Lars Edegran solo piano) and Easter Sunday (Rick Trolsen Quartet). There are many more jazz services and special performances scheduled for April and May, but more about all of that in a later column.