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.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Just back from the "Jazz in Marciac" festival in southwest France. Founded 35 years ago by the local mayor, Jean-Louis Guilhaumon, this annual event in a small village of 1,100 souls has become one of Europe's major jazz festivals, drawing a quarter of a million visitors over a two week period. Headliners this year included Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Sonny Rollins, Lucky Peterson, Bobby McFerrin, Esperanza Spalding, Joshua Redman, and Diana Reeves, among others.
     The big name artists all performed under a 5,000-seat tent, while a stage set up in the town square hosted the so-called "Off Festival" acts. That's where I performed on August 14th and 15th with a hand-picked group of Europe-based musicians under the name of the "Tommy Sancton New Orleans Swing Sextet." The band consisted of trumpeter Jerome Etcheberry (France), bassist Mathias Allamane (France), drummer Guillaume Nouaux (France), trombonist and vocalist Paddy Sherlock (Ireland), guitarist David Blenkhorn (Australia, now living in France) and myself (New Orleans) on clarinet.
Tommy Sancton New Orleans Swing Sextet at Marciac
The idea was to play New Orleans-inspired music without trying to adhere strictly to the "trad" style. The use of an electric guitar in place of a piano helped give the band a somewhat freer, more modern sound. Each musician brought his own ideas and stylistic approach to the mix. I found the resulting music fresh and exciting and hope to do some more festival work with this group next year. Off stage, the band had a great time eating the local culinary specialties—foie gras, cassoulet, confit de canard, etc.—and jamming in some of the little bars near the square.

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