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

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.

Pokey LaFarge Wants You to Know

It's South by Southwest in Austin, and across the street from a party hosted by an app developer, a well-dressed swing band is set up in a gravel parking lot in front of a van. The van gets attention because it's black and yellow and carries the mark of Third Man Records, Jack White's label. The band stops people who are moving between hip-hop and indie rock stars of the day with its easy swing and the singer's clear, effortless way with a melody.

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