Stafford sometimes brought the volume way down on his muted trumpet solos. These solos awed the crowd with notes so quiet and sustained, they could only be created by a true trumpet genius as Stafford is. Other times he took charge, with some all-out horn blowing and really let it rip! These extremely boisterous trumpet solos were delivered with gusto and imagination. The Happy Pals, inspired by Stafford’s energy and enthusiasm, backed him all the way on these wild, imaginative musical journeys. They gave it all they had, and it showed. The audience reciprocated with unrestrained applause and calls for ‘more’ helping to make this special occasion even more so!
The finale of this matinee portion of Saturday’s show featured an old-fashioned New Orleans-style parade, led by Miss Noonie (Kid Bastien’s long-time friend), parasol in hand, along with many other parasol-carrying New Orleans jazz enthusiasts in the audience following each other single file around Grossman’s atmospheric surroundings. Stafford and many of the Happy Pals, along with harp player Steven C. Barr, joined in this parade, marching along while performing "When the Saints Go Marching In" in true New Orleans fashion.
The evening’s performance, (which followed a two-hour dinner break for the band), was equally as exilirating. One of its special guests was the previously mentioned harp player Steven C. Barr.
Barr sang a few songs with the style and tone of great New Orleans jazz parlor singers of yesteryear. He easily captured the mood and atmosphere of smoky clubs and juke joints of a by-gone era, with the expertise of an individual who has lived through and played through those years with style and grace. Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1942, (on South Michigan Ave., near what was later to become Chess Studios) and being nurtured in such a musically profuse environment; Barr seems to radiate his deep musical influences to the audience in a truly magical way. His harp playing was on cue and inspirational this evening at Grossman’s. He was backed by the fabulous jazzy rhythms and harmonies of the Happy Pals along with the talents of Stafford and Brandt.
There were a couple of instances towards the end of this remarkably entertaining evening, where Stafford’s and Brandt’s spectacular solos were added to with flair by Barr’s harp riffs that were subtle and insightful. In these instances, Barr’s harp playing input added to the body of these solos in an imaginative and insightful way.
Other highlights of this show included Roberta Tevlin’s barrelhouse piano solos that were added to by the energetic banjo rhythms of Hannah Krapivinsky. Patrick Tevlin’s lively horn solos and wooden clapper percussion were also a real crowd pleaser. There were also several incredible solos by other Happy Pals, including the fabulous Toby Hughes on sax and Phil Carney on upright bass.
All in all, this very special Second Annual Kid Bastien New Orleans Jazz Party tribute concert, was a great success for everybody in attendance -- band and audience alike. It’s heart-warming that Kid Bastien’s memory and musical legacy are continuing to be kept alive in such a light-hearted, upbeat (and fun) way. This musical magic and mirth continues every Saturday afternoon at Grossman’s weekly jazz matinee starting at 4 p.m., with the Happy Pals and all their very happy longtime fans of all ages.
Listen to live, streamed, authentic New Orleans jazz and blues broadcasts on the internet at New Orleans #1 jazz and blues station, WWOZ, (Gregg Stafford’s "favorite radio station"), at: WWOZ.org
Listen to Bob Walker’s Jukebox Gold archived on the internet. Rare 1950s and 1960s New Orleans radio shows and songs to choose from -- doo wop, blues, early R&B, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll -- just as New Orleans residents originally listened to these incredible broadcasts decades ago -- are available to listen to now, courtesy of the Lagniappe Broadcast Network, at: Lagniappe.la/WalkerJukeboxGold.asp ** One of my favorite broadcasts in this series is called The Jokers -- a late 1950s Louisiana doo wop/early R&B group featuring keyboard player Richie Ladner. These days Ladner performs with New Orleans sax great Johnny Pennino. He’s featured with Pennino, as well as drummer Freddy Staehle (ex-Dr. John band) and vocalist/harp player Chuck Jackson (of Downchild Blues Band fame, Downchild.com) in the CD, Chuck Jackson & Johnny Pennino, Live On Bourbon St., (recorded live at the Jazz Parlor in New Orleans in Dec. 2003).