10 June 2013


One of the hardest-working and most versatile of the hugely-talented musicians I met during my visit to New Orleans in April 2015 was the trombone player Charlie Halloran. Charlie is one of the many young players who migrated to New Orleans - in his case from St. Louis - shortly after Hurricane Katrina.

Charlie had earlier studied at Webster University and went on to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

It is not surprising that Charlie is in great demand. Is there any tune in any style that he can't play brilliantly? It seems not. I should mention that he's a pretty good singer, too.
Charlie Halloran (left) playing in The Shotgun Jazz Band
During the four days of the official French Quarter Festival he played in at least nine concerts featuring various contrasting bands - The Palmetto Bug Stompers, Tom Saunders and the TomcatsDiablo's Horns, The Panorama Jazz Band, Steve Pistorius's Southern Syncopators, Cori Walters and the Universe Jazz BandOrange Kellin's New Orleans Deluxe Orchestra, and Tim Laughlin's Band. On top of these official Festival engagements, I saw him twice - in the evenings - playing with The Shotgun Jazz Band and (deputising for Barnabus Jones) with Tuba Skinny.

All that in four days. What stamina! What energy!
Charlie playing with Diablo's Horns
at the French Quarter Festival 2015.
(Photo courtesy of David Wiseman)
Charlie approaches his music in the same way as a great athlete approaches competition. He always aims to get a good sleep and does not stay out late when he doesn't have to. He makes a point of eating well.

Even on a day when there will be a lot of playing, he aims to be up by 9am to spend some time practising the trombone - 'warming up carefully' and 'playing long tones'. He carries in his kit a gel that he can apply to his lips in case of emergency. He says this helps prevent his lips from becoming swollen later in the day. (I noticed that Haruka Kikuchi, another great trombonist, occasionally applies vaseline to her lips during a performance.)

Yet, despite his massive talent, Charlie is such a modest and gentlemanly person, always friendly and willing to chat during his few spare moments. He loves his work but enjoys being a side-man rather a leader or star. When he told me he would be playing with Tuba Skinny the following night (deputising during a very rare absence of Barnabus Jones), I asked him how he would cope with Tuba Skinny's often complex head arrangements. What if they played Deep Henderson, for example? He said Deep Henderson would be no trouble, as he knew their arrangement well. However, he told me 'I expect they will dumb down the programme a bit to make allowances for me.'

Well, I went to the concert. And I can tell you this: Tuba Skinny did not 'dumb down' at all. They played a typical programme, complex arrangements included. And how did Charlie cope? Brilliantly. He played some wonderful stuff and, as far as I could tell, never put a foot wrong.

Listen to Charlie for yourself:

In this video, Charlie talks to us and gives a demonstration of some styles: CLICK HERE.

Listen to a lovely gentle tune in 3/4 time with The Panorama Jazz Band:  CLICK HERE. You will need then to click the arrow button to run the video.

For You Always Hurt the One You Love with The Shotgun Jazz Band  CLICK HERE.

And for a totally different setting:  CLICK HERE.

Or watch him having Mardi Gras fun with The Panorama Parade Band:  CLICK HERE.