Thursday, April 25,
Economy Hall Tent, 4:20 p.m.
As The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival comes to its 50th anniversary, there are few musicians playing this year who have had as long-standing a connection with the festival as pianist Lars Edegran. Naturally, the festival wanted him to do something special for the anniversary. “I had a call from Christine from the jazz festival and she reminded me that I’d played at the first one in 1970. Actually I’d played in 1969 too, but that was before the festival really started. In 1970 I played with the Ragtime Orchestra,” Lars Edegran recalls of developing this year’s show. “Christine reminded me that I did another program too, which was ’Ragtime to Jelly Roll.’ I’d completely forgot about that. It was fifty years ago! She reminded me that I played with the Ragtime Orchestra and that I had other guests, one of which was Don Ewell, the very famous piano player. Another one was Frank Amacker who was a piano player who played in Storyville. She asked me if I could repeat that program this year, and I said, ‘Well, those guys are gone, but I can get some other guys!’”
Edegran has put together a stellar line-up to reprise the show, following the formula he used for the original. “I’m going to go from ragtime into early jazz like Buddy Bolden, Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, and then to Jelly Roll,” he says. “I’m going to have my regular Ragtime Orchestra band which is Jamil Sharif on trumpet, Tom Fischer on clarinet, Charlie Halloran on trombone, me on piano, Peter Harris on bass, Matt Rhody on violin, and Benny Amón on drums. I’m going to have guests with me, too. I’m going to have Kris Tokarski, who is a specialist on Jelly Roll. I’m going to have extra horn players as well. We’re adding Joe Goldberg on tenor and clarinet, Alonzo Bowens on clarinet, and Kevin Louis on trumpet is going to be featured doing ‘Winin’ Boy Blues.’ That’s one of Jelly Roll’s famous pieces–in fact, that’s what Jelly Roll was called in New Orleans. He wasn’t called Jelly Roll in the Storyville days. He got that nickname because that song was very popular in Storyville, because it had very nasty, obscene lyrics. Of course we’ll do a cleaned-up version!”
Edegran has plenty of multi-part clarinet solos to wow audiences, and several vocal features to delight fans of the New Orleans traditional jazz scene. Whether you want to see some of the best local players strut their stuff, or you just want to see some actual jazz at Jazz Fest, this will be the show to catch.