Earlier this year, the New Orleans Jazz Museum issued Gallatin Street Records’ debut release. Gypsy-jazz band Bon Bon Vivant recorded Live at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the museum’s Performing Arts Center.
A record label dedicated to new recordings made at the Jazz Museum’s Performing Arts Center as well as archival material is a new way to fulfill the museum’s mission, said Greg Lambousy, Jazz Museum director. “We see it as one avenue of access to the collection and the programming we’re doing,” he said. “Of course, it would be nice to make some money for the museum, but that’s not our main focus.”
The Performing Arts Center, located on the third floor of the Old U.S. Mint, presents afternoon and evening concerts every week. In cooperation with more than a dozen festivals, the space also hosts seminars, panels, lectures, oral histories and artist interviews. “It’s a great room,” Lambousy said. “We use it as much as possible.”
Bon Bon Vivant’s Live at the New Orleans Jazz Museum was an easy choice for Gallatin Street Records. Lambousy thinks of the group as one of the museum’s house bands. “They have such energy and they’re a great dance band,” he said. “We’re big on Bon Bon Vivant and they were excited about doing it.”
The Jazz Museum’s programming and collection reveal how musical styles are connected. “The traditions that formed ragtime and jazz and rock ‘n’ roll and R&B are all interconnected,” Lambousy said. “A lot of that came from New Orleans. I’m not saying that New Orleans was the only place where these things were happening or were born, but New Orleans is a musical home to much of that music.”
Upcoming releases from Gallatin Street include an album culled from the museum’s Public Domain Project. Jazz clarinetist Evan Christopher led the series of four concerts featuring music composed before 1923. Christopher’s collaborators included Don Vappie, Wendell Brunious, Roland Guerin, Leroy Jones and Sarah Quintana. The museum is also discussing projects with OperaCréole and zydeco musician Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes.
As for archival material, the label is considering 1950s recordings by Warren “Baby” Dodds. An early jazz drummer, Dodds worked with Bunk Johnson, Joe “King” Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Sidney Bechet. Multi-instrumentalist string musician guitarist Ed “Snoozer” Quinn, who performed with Bing Crosby, Paul Whiteman and Louisiana’s singing governor, Jimmie Davis, is another possibility.