jazz

In the 1920s, when George Gershwin completed the musical components of a new song, he'd pass the music along to his brother, Ira, for the lyrics. One particular song, though, was giving Ira fits. The rhymes he'd come up with didn't suit the music. Ira eventually decided on a prose approach, with interior rhymes that matched the bounce of the song more closely. That song , "I Got Rhythm" -- in a slower version -- became part of a musical called "Treasure Girl". The song was then adapted for 1930's "Girl Crazy" in the faster version known today.

Music Inside Out

By his count, Wendell Brunious knows more than 2,000 songs. Some are from the Great American Songbook, some are traditional, swing and bebop jazz gems and many are from the golden era of New Orleans rhythm and blues. A goodly few are homemade. Wendell’s father, John “Picket” Brunious, Sr. was a composer and arranger, as was his brother John, Jr. Wendell says he plays their music to keep them ever-present, but he has his own of stock of originals. Over a more than 50 year-career in the business, he says his number one rule remains, “Keep it simple, stupid.”

Treme's Petit Jazz Museum

Take a walk through the Treme on any day and you might find a slice of history and something new to learn. It might be on Governor Nicholls Street, where Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum is located. NolaVie’s David Benedetto paid a visit and caught up with the museum’s founder, who offered a lesson in jazz history for the eyes and the ears.

Visit ViaNolaVie for a related article written by David Benedetto.

Robin Barnes
Robin Barnes

Robin Barnes was born and raised in the Lower 9th Ward, shuttling between her parents’ and grandparents’ houses and singing the songs they liked to hear. Armed with a tambourine at the age of six, she charmed her way into her father’s cover band. Since then, she’s grown into a commanding vocalist with a repertoire of gospel, soul and r&b classics, jazz, funk and pop songs, opera and her own compositions. Her 2016 EP Songbird Sessions reached the top five on the Billboard jazz chart. But jazz may be a confining genre for Barnes.

Tomi Lunsford and Gwen Thompkins at Tomi's home in Nashville
Jason Rhein

Like so many other musicians who have made a home in Nashville, singer Tomi Lunsford has spent her life immersed in country music. A native of Asheville, NC, she played in a family band from a young age.

Her father, Jim Lunsford, was a journeyman fiddler who played with superstars of classic country and bluegrass such as Roy Acuff, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Reno and Smiley, Bob Wills, and Marty Robbins. Her great-uncle, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, was a lawyer and famed collector of folk songs from the mountains of North Carolina.

Dolores T. Aaron students Ty'ron Martin (left) and Donovan Dubart play trumpet in the school brass band.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

New Orleans’ culture is deeply connected to its music. The city is the birthplace of jazz, and the hometown of many great musicians, from Louis Armstrong to Irma Thomas. Many got their start in public schools. But those training grounds are under threat as schools change and become more focused on test scores in reading and math. Now, a group of veteran New Orleans musicians are trying to do something about it. 

This week on The Reading Life: Susan talks with historian Blain Roberts, co-author, with her husband Ethan Kytle, of “Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy.” Who owns history in Charleston, SC? Roberts talks bout historical quandaries in memorialization and the whitewashing of slavery --in  landmarks, monuments, museums, tours for tourists.  And there's a surprising detour into musical territory as well.

Here’s what’s on tap in the literary life this week:

Susan Larson, host of The Reading Life, talks with local authors and readers about their favorite books from three hundred years of New Orleans literature.

Historic New Orleans Collection

TriPod: New Orleans at 300 returns with a new episode about a Mexican band that rocked the city in the 80s -- the 1880s. 

Long, long ago, a band in New Orleans swept the city off its feet, but it wasn’t a New Orleans Band. It was Mexican.

Patrick Melon / Melon the Scribe

On this week's edition of All Things New Orleans, we'll chat with saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. about Xavier University's Campus Jazz Festival and more. Then, the Data Center's Allison Plyer discusses findings from their newest report, The Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Edition

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