Jazz Fest: Catching Up with Smoking Time Jazz Club

The Frenchmen Street swing/trad jazz scene can sometimes feel like it wants to be boldly rooted in tradition, but musical archaeology doesn't fill the tip jar. The Smoking Time Jazz Club does the work. They declare in all-caps on their website, "When we play the greats like Louis, Duke, Jelly, Bessie or Billie, it's because they really were geniuses," but dig deeper than that for source material for their nine albums, the most recent being last year's Take Your Time and Fly

Debbie Davis Learns to Ignore Her Inner Critic on "Vices and Virtues"

On “Lulu’s Back in Town,” pianist Josh Paxton plays an acrobatic solo with the omni-directional energy of a four-year-old boy churning on ice cream and a juice box. When he finishes, singer Debbie Davis matches his intensity when she resumes the verse, then you can hear her briefly rein in the Fats Waller classic to set up a shared surge before the two blast it out to the song’s conclusion.

Music Biz Writer Ari Herstand Learned a Lesson or Two on Frenchmen Street

Ari Herstand found the peace he needed at District Donuts. The musician who writes the music business advice website Ari’s Take had a deadline looming for a book based on his writings, but life at home in Los Angeles proved to be too distracting. When a cousin offered him his Garden District guest house for a few weeks, Herstand jumped at the chance. Once there, he developed a routine.

Miss Sophie Lee's Path to Frenchmen Street

Miss Sophie Lee didn’t start off looking to be a jazz singer. She has been on a musical path all her life, playing piano and violin as a child, and she went to a performing arts school in her native Chicago when she was five. “Love of music happened very early,” Lee says. She started taking singing lessons when she was in junior high and went to college for classical piano performance. The classical music career she’d been aimed at since childhood didn’t happen, though.

Greg Schatz Shrugs at Everything You Want

The story of Greg Schatz’s new Everything That You Wanted is told on the back cover, not the front. The disjointed, ragtag still life atop an old piano on the front suggests a junk shop aesthetic that is not quite right. The album’s not fussy or ornate, but it’s not haphazard either. There’s far too much talent on the tracks for the songs, like the photo, to seem slung together.

Jazz Fest: Luke Winslow-King was Picked by the Blues

When Luke Winslow-King released his second Bloodshot Records album, Everlasting Arms, we talked about his relationship to the blues. He plays Jazz Fest's Lagniappe Stage today at 2:05 p.m., and he'll sit in on lead guitar with Little Freddie King during his set in the Blues Tent at 12:10 p.m. 

“The blues picked me, and I’m going to go with it.”

The Sound of Smoking

When Jimmy Anselmo wanted a liquor license so that the new owners could open Jimmy’s Music Club, they had to sign a good neighbor agreement that was designed to minimize noise. “The club's patio, which must close earlier than the rest of the club, cannot have speakers, and alcohol cannot be served on the patio,” Keith Spera reported in The Times-Picayune.

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