With the sound of New Orleans forever linked to the rambling cacophony of traditional jazz, getting a leg up on the city’s contemporary scene presents a unique challenge to its up-and-coming purveyors: getting their feet in the door. “You either give up, or you go to New York. Or, you do something else and go to New Orleans,” says saxophonist James Partridge in this week’s episode of OffBeat’s Look-Ka Py Py Podcast. Thankfully for Partridge and his future bandmates in the Session (trumpeter Stephen Lands, pianist Andrew McGowan and drummer Darrian Douglas), buddy Jasen Weaver (bass) had yet to graduate from the University of New Orleans’ Jazz Studies program, and they had time on their hands.
Beginning in 2011, the group began holding weekly practice sessions on the school’s campus. While it didn’t take long for the young band to settle into a rhythm, finding their groove put them to the test, as the Session’s first studio session yielded a set none felt made the grade. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign a few months down the road, the group returned to the studio. This time, they brought their A-game — the result: This Is Who We Are, a bold blend of post-bop and cool jazz that recalls late-Sixties Columbia but bears a hefty swing that’s unmistakably New Orleans. Tune in to hear Partridge and Lands tell what it took for the Session to pull their act together.