This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.
Contact: tomsancton@yahoo.com

Friday, March 7, 2014

TOM SANCTON PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE, APRIL 2014

Tuesday, April 1: Columns Hotel, Classic Jazz Trio featuring John Rankin and Charlie Halloran. 8- 11 pm.

Wednesday, April 9: Preservation Hall with Seva Venet String Band, 4 - 6 pm. Palm Court with Lars Edegran Band and vocalist Topsy Chapman, 1206 Decatur St, 8 - 11 pm.

Saturday, April 12: FRENCH QUARTER FESTIVAL
     500 Bourbon Stage, with Clive Wilson's New Orleans Serenaders, 1:45 - 3:45 pm
     600 Bourbon Stage, with Lars Edegran All Stars, 3:45 - 5:45 pm

Sunday, April 13: FRENCH QUARTER FESTIVAL
     Old U.S. Mint, with Society Brass Band, 11:15 - 12:30 pm. 
     600 Bourbon Stage, with New Orleans Legacy Band featuring Shannon Powell, 1:30 - 3:30 pm/

Wednesday, April 16 Palm Court, 1206 Decatur St., with Lars Edegran's Palm Court All Stars, featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman. 8 - 11 pm.

Saturday, April 19: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur St, with Lionel Ferbos Band, 8 - 11 pm.

Sunday, April 20: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with the New Orleans Legacy Band, 8 - 11 pm.

Wednesday, April 23: Palm Court, 1206 Decatur St., with Lars Edegran's Palm Court All Stars, featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman. 8 - 11 pm.

Sunday, April 27: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with Wendell Brunious Band featuring Tom Hook. 8 - 11 pm.

Wednesday, April 30: National Jazz Park (3rd floor auditorium in Old U.S. Mint, with Clive Wilson's New Orlens Serenaders, 2 - 3:30 pm.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SERGEI BABAYAN DAZZLES AT DIXON HALL

Heard a superb piano recital at Tulane's Dixon Hall last Monday by Armenian pianist Sergei Babayan performing a breathtaking program of Liszt, Mussorgsky and Chopin. His touch on Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" was all force and energy. On the six Chopin pieces, he managed to evoke all the intensity of feeling without succumbing to the excessive romanticism that often (to my mind) mars interpretations of this great Polish composer. The evening was part of Tulane's (free) Concert Piano Series. Bravo l'artiste!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

JUMPING, JIVING, AND WAILING WITH WENDELL BRUNIOUS

The gig at Preservation Hall last Sunday was something special. Trumpeter Wendell Brunious led the group and really took charge on the bandstand, calling great tunes, making the announcements, telling jokes, and singing a bunch of songs (including two of his own compositions). He even did the whistling part on Professor Longhair's "When You Go to New Orleans." His trumpet playing was smart, slick, and swinging—at one point he departed from his usual style to imitate the staccato bleats and jabs of Kid Thomas Valentine on "Old Gray Bonnet." Other tunes included "Royal Garden Blues," "Bye and Bye," "Burgundy Street Blues," "When You're Smiling," "Whoopin' Blues," and "Please Don't Talk About Me" (featuring the irrepressible Ronell Johnson on trombone and vocal). A special treat was the piano work of Tom Hook, who also sang three Louis Prima songs from his "Jump, Jive, and Wail" show at the World War II museum. By the end of the night, I was energized and ready to go another three sets. I had so much fun I'm planning to go sit in with Wendell and Tom Hook tonight on their regular Tuesday gig at Dos Jefes on Tchoupitoulas. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

SYLVAINE SANCTON SHOW REVIEWED IN GAMBIT


Art critic Eric Bookhardt just published a nice review of Sylvaine's art show in the Gambit:


Theme and Variations: Mixed Media by Sylvaine Sancton, Through March 1, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506.


In art lingo, work that fulfills its potential is deemed "fully realized," and this show has many examples. Sylvaine Sancton's abstract paintings and sculptures at Barrister's express a fully realized vision that transcends media. Whether it's paint, wood or travertine, Sancton's sinuous, organic forms are pristine articulations of the transcendent reality that she sees just beyond the ordinary reality we all share. One unusual attribute of this show is how the sculpture "explains" the paintings and vice-versa, making it clear that all reflect the same essential vision, which is just as much a "reality" as any "realistic" art, subjective though it may be. Or as she puts it: "The nature of my work is sensual and emotional. There are only lines, color, and matter... It does not represent reality. It is reality"    
—Eric Bookhardt, Gambit,  2/17/2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE ORIGINAL BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND

My old friend and former bandmate Tony Pringle recently sent me this photo of one of the earliest appearances of our Black Eagle Jazz Band in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1970. (That's me on the right sporting an afro and a Harvard crew shirt.) Other members of the band are Pringle on cornet, Ray Smith on drums, Jim Klippert on trombone, Eli Newberger on piano, and Dave Duquette on banjo.
Tony and I put the original group together in about 1969. Tony, a computer engineer, had recently arrived from Liverpool (via Ohio) and was looking for musicians who shared his passion of George Lewis-style New Orleans jazz. Somebody gave him my name, so he showed up at my dorm at Harvard one day and we immediately decided to put together a group of like-minded musicians in the Boston area. The guys in this photo were the first "generation" of the Black Eagles.
Soon after this photo was taken, Pam Pameijer took over on drums;  Duquette moved to Texas and Peter Bullis filled the banjo chair. That was the group that recorded with Chester Zardis on bass in 1971 and played that year in the second New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, with Kid Ory on the front row. Ory shook our hands after the concert and praised the band—an unforgettable moment. Later that year, I graduated and left for Oxford, Klippert moved to California, and the band continued under Tony's leadership as the New Black Eagle Jazz Band. More than four decades later the NBEJB is still playing and prospering.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

NEW ORLEANS MAG TOUTS "HYMNS & SPIRITUALS"


Jason Berry (bless his heart) made this nice mention of our "Hymns & Spirituals" CD in his latest column for New Orleans Magazine. Excerpts:



Clarinetist Tommy Sancton and pianist Lars Edegran do a splendid job on instrumental versions of  songs from those early quartets and the repertoire of street bands. Hymns & Spirituals. New Orleans Quartet (NOL-CD-99) culls 14 songs that were recorded at live performances in Trinity Episcopal Church, between 2007 and ’09.

Since Sancton returned several years ago to his hometown after a journalist’s career in Paris, the one-time student of the peerless George Lewis has become a mainstay of the traditional jazz community. On numbers like “In the Garden” and “Abide With Me,” Edegran’s anchoring work on piano gives Sancton room to roam; his lines quaver and soar like a vocalist in flight. Of all the instruments in the classic jazz ensemble – or a parade band for that matter – the clarinet is the woodwind that, at its best, comes closest to intoning a feminine essence.

In his memoir, Song For My Fathers, Sancton writes of his lessons under George Lewis: “He would go up and down the horn, weaving in and out, sometimes harmonizing with the melody, sometimes leaving space and playing a counterpoint, something laying down a rhythmic arpeggio. His tone was gorgeous, especially when he let his horn sing out on the long notes with his plaintive vibrato.”

The “plaintive vibrato” is every clarinetist’s goal, fusing the sadness and sweetness that give church song an essence of the blues. “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” has a slow moody blues melancholia to fit a harmonizing quartet, with no musical accompaniment, or a clarinetist undulating across a landscape of African-American memory, the notes supplanting the tolling lines of sorrow.

Lars Edegran’s supple piano gives Hymns & Spirituals a base line to dramatize the nature of melody, a songline that draws its beauty, instrumentally and in human voices, which swing together.

Order online:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

VIVA TUJAGUE'S!

Thank goodness for Mark Latter. He's the man who saved Tujague's from becoming a seedy French Quarter T-shirt shop and preserved New Orleans's second oldest restaurant (est. 1856) following the death of his father, longtime owner Steven Latter, last February. Sylvaine and I had lunch there last week and were delighted by the elegant sobriety of the decor—white tiles, white walls, starched white tablecloths—the service, and especially the food. Though I grew up in New Orleans, I must confess that I had only eaten there once before, with my mother en route to Preservation Hall back in the 60's. What I had on that occasion was what Sylvaine and I ordered this time: the famous beef brisket with horseradish sauce. It was better than in my memory. Sylvaine, who is very picky about food and restaurants, announced that it was in fact a French pot au feu—potted beef stewed with vegetables—and found it excellent. (To be thoroughly French, though, she said it needed some leeks along with the carrots and potatoes.) For starters, Sylvaine had the shrimp remoulade and I had the gumbo. The shrimp were cooked to perfection—that is, not overcooked and rubbery as is often the case—and the remoulade sauce was zesty and piquant comme il faut. I've had better gumbo, but this one was decent.
What I appreciated about Tujague's was its respect for tradition mixed with a total lack of pretension. That is in keeping with its history. It was never a fancy restaurant for the silk stocking crowd and well-heeled tourists. It began as a place where the vendors at the French Market ate breakfast or lunch during their long workdays. My great grandfather, Simon Palanque, was a French-born butcher at the market and, I presume, a regular at Tujague's and the now defunct Begué's. Thanks again, Mark Latter. We'll be back. Maybe even today...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

GIGLIST - JANUARY 2014


Sunday, December 29: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with Clive Wilson's New Orleans Serenaders. 8 - 11 pm

Sunday, January 5: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with the New Orleans Legacy Band. 8 - 11 pm.

Wednesday, January 8: Palm Court, with Lars Edegran's Palm Court All Stars, featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman. 8 - 11 pm.

Sunday, January 12: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with Lars Edegran All Stars. 8 - 11 pm.

Wednesday, January 15: Palm Court, with Lars Edegran's Palm Court All Stars, featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman. 8 - 11 pm.

Thursday, January 16: Jazz at Twilight, Pavilion of the Two Sisters, City Park, with the New Orleans legacy Band. 6 - 7:45 pm.

Sunday, January 19: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with the New Orleans Legacy Band. 8 - 11 pm.

Tuesday, January 21: Columns Hotel, with John Rankin and the Classic Jazz Trio. 8 - 11 pm.

Wednesday, January 22: Palm Court, with Lars Edegran's Palm Court All Stars, featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman. 8 - 11 pm.

Wednesday, January 22: Palm Court, with Lars Edegran's Palm Court All Stars, featuring vocalist Topsy Chapman. 8 - 11 pm.

Sunday, January 5: Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., with the Lars Edegran All Stars. 8 - 11 pm.





Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

ADIEU, GEORGE BUCK

Photo by Tom Jacobsen
We held a jazz funeral parade for George H. Buck, Jr., on Saturday, December 20. The procession went from the Charbonnet Funeral Home on Claiborne and St. Philip, through the Treme neighborhood to St. Mary's Church on Chartres Street, then on to the Palm Court for a reception hosted by George's widow, Nina Buck and his son George S. "Bo" Buck.

It was a moving and stately event, reminding me of George Lewis's funeral in 1969, at which I played the Eb clarinet with the Olympia Brass Band. This band, put together by Lars Edegran, was composed mainly of musicians who play at the Palm Court and/or recorded for George's G.H.B. label. Here is a list of the personnel, as best  I can remember: Clive Wilson, Leroy Jones, Herlin Riley, Tobias Dolle, trumpets; Craig Klein, Lucien Barbarin, Robert Harris, Katja Toivola, trombones; Tom Fischer, James Evans, saxophones; Tim Laughlin, Evan Christopher and myself, clarinets; Kerry Brown, Walter Harris, Herman Lebeaux, Shannon Powell, drums; Lars Edegran, Seva Venet, banjos; Jeffrey Hill, sousaphone.

As the antique horse-drawn hearse advanced, the band played a medley of traditional hymns and dirges. Among them:  Closer Walk, The Old Rugged Cross, Bye and Bye, Lead Me Savior, In the Sweet Bye and Bye, Abide With Me, followed by the more up tempo Second Line. At the church service, which attracted a full house of attendees, the Rev. William Maestri gave the eulogy and Topsy Chapman sang "Amazing Grace" and "His Eye is on the Sparrow."
It was a fitting tribute for a man who shared his passion for traditional jazz with so many people and did so much to record, preserve, and diffuse New Orleans music around the world. R.I.P., George Buck, and thank you.

For more information about George H. Buck and the George H. Buck, Jr. Jazz Foundation:
jazzology.com