Jazz Safari to New Orleans

All week I was looking forward to the weekend in New Orleans…but that didn’t stop me from whopping it up in Toronto. Monday, I went sailing with Jiva…a girl who comes by her coolness effortlessy as her brother is a cool dude, her mom is a masseuse and her dad is a master chef and performance artist. We hadn’t hung out in years so it was nice to catch up and she really enjoyed taking control of the boat.

Mary and I partied in New Orleans last year – this awesome photo (also starring Scruffy) was taken by Don Dixon.

Tuesday I had an all day photo shoot from Don Dixon. I’m going to create a new jaymzbee.com website and no doubt his phenomenal photos will come in handy. Mary B came along to act as the ultimate human muse and got some great shots herself! 

Tuesday evening I went to The Rivoli to see PAMALOT. Pam Hyatt is a great entertainer – imagine Blossom Dearie meets Bea Arthur and you have a starting point at least…Her short monologues were outrageous and her songs went from sweet and poignant to clever and funny. At 76 years young Pam is working on her debut CD and you can help by donating any amount to rockethub.com PAMALOT

Barbra Lica head shot…again…by Don Dixon!

Speaking of great performances, I hosted a show by Gord Sheard at The Long & McQuade performance hall at JAZZ.FM91 on Thursday and then beelined to enjoy Barbra Lica at The Old Mill Inn. Genevieve, Sahra, Captain Paul and other friends all congregated to enjoy Barbie as she sang songs from her debut CD “That’s What I Do”. A double dose of top-notch music!

Finally…Friday came and I was off to New Orleans with Ross Porter and Jessica Frohman from JAZZ.FM91 along with 30 generous donors. At the airport I met a beautiful girl who looked familiar.

Lianne Spiderbaby loves her gig writing for Fangoria magazine!

It turns out we are Facebook friends and have some close pals in common. Lianne was going to New Orleans to do a story on the new Quentin Tarrantino film called “Django Unchained”. I was hoping to bump into Q or some of his actors in NOLA but alas it was not to be. His new movie stars Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel Jackson and Bruce Dern, to name a few! Speaking of Waltz…not only did he play one of the most fascinating villains in the history of film (Inglorius Basterds) but he also has one helluva sense of humour!

The Jazz Safari was effortless fun – starting with Ellis Marsallis at Snug Harbour. Ellis is the 77-year old patriarch of the New Olreans jazz scene. Four or his six kids have followed in his footsteps and become famous jazz musicians! My favourite song of the night was his version of “Emily” which reminded me of Bill Evans meets Junior Mance. It was a great first show to kick off the night. We beelined to Fritzel’s to enjoy Barry Foulon on banjo. The Club in in a building from 1831 and has been doing jazz since 1969. It’s the kind of trad jazz hangout that one needs to experience when visiting New Orleans. They got me up to sing a song and I did my hammy ham ham best! I returned a few days later to join a different band at Fritzell’s and did a ripping kazoo solo. Fun stuff! Our third stop Friday was Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown convinced me to take of their shirts on the dance floor. Right after his set the burlesque show began…so guys weren’t the only scantily clad people in the room. Trixie Minx and her gang always put on a classy, sassy show! Our final stop was our hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, to see Jeremy Davenport. It was a great idea to be able to stroll up to our rooms after tall the excitement. It was a perfect night with a group of awesome new friends.

Meeting the locals…and digging the Yin-Yang ratio!

Saturday Jessica and I toured around New Orleans all day, shopping and exploring – in the evening I had one of my best meals of 2012 at Emerill’s.

Every time I visit New Orleans I buy a new suit. I don’t always jump on tractors!

All the Jazz FM crew got together for dinner and then went our separate ways, hitting various clubs on Frenchman Street and Bourbon Street. I hit about seven clubs and it’s all a bit hazy thanks to a man who bought me three martinis over dinner. I do recall pulling some shapes on a dance floor, slipping on someone’s spilled drink and flying into the DJ booth. (Awwwwwkwarrrrrd) I also remember posing with a tractor at stupid o’clock in the mourning!

File under “Small World”: Two donors to JAZZ.FM91 are parents to my Costa Rican tour guide, the lovely Lalena Bennett. Everyone loved the vibe and the food at House Of Blues!

Sunday began with a Gospel Brunch at House of Blues and was followed by a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez to enjoy the best Dixieland band in New Orleans, The Dukes Of Dixieland.

I sang and kazoo’d with various groups in New Orleans but Dukes Of Dixieland were the highlight of my trip!

I’ve never heard anything so tight! There were several JAZZ.FM91 donors on board and I met a sweet girl from Montreal named Emilie who reminded me of my best pal Marieve Herington. We ended up hanging all night and I know she’ll visit me in Toronto soon.

I highly recommend Steamboat Natchez…Emilie does too!

I can’t get enough of New Orleans – I’ll be back in January but wish it could be sooner. Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? I do!

To find out more about donating to JAZZ.FM91 so you can join me on a Toronto or International Jazz Safari, contact me at jaymzbee@jazz.fm

The Jazz Safari to San Fransisco and Monterey Jazz Festival is sold out but I will be offering one soon to New York City in the early fall!

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1 Response to Jazz Safari to New Orleans

  1. Yay! It was SO great to meet you! I hope to bump into you again soon!

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