20 February 2016


During my April 2016 visit to New Orleans, one moment stood out as the most wonderful and magical.

I was in the audience at The Spotted Cat on Saturday 9 April when The Shotgun Jazz Band was playing. Chloe Feoranzo, the great young clarinet and saxophone player (and singer) had moved to New Orleans only a few days earlier and had not yet even finished unpacking her belongings. But she was already sitting in with some bands and booked to play in others.
The Shotgun Jazz Band, 9 April 2016
Left to Right:
Chloe Feoranzo, John Dixon, Marla Dixon,
Tyler Thomson, James Evans (here, unusually, on trombone)

With so many musicians engaged elsewhere in French Quarter Festival duties, The Shotgun Jazz Band was short of its regular staff: they had no trombone player. So the brilliant James Evans (like Chloe, one of the world's greatest traditional jazz reed players and also a very good singer) switched to trombone for some numbers (yes, he can play that instrument very well too!). And Chloe played the full gig on reeds.

When we reached the final number of the second set, Marla Dixon left the stand to go among the audience with the 'tips bucket' as she always does. This left James and Chloe in charge of the music. They chose to play Bye Bye Blues, both using their C Melody Saxes. It was a stunning performance that I shall never forget.

Thank goodness for James Sterling! He - a reader of my blog - had driven over from Florida and was filming it on his mobile phone. Thanks to James, you too can now witness (on YouTube) this very special performance of Bye Bye Blues.

It is astonishing to think that only four musicians were involved (two of them on saxes) and that such pulsating music resulted. We have John Dixon on banjo and Tyler 'Twerk' Thomson on string bass (in my opinion the best combination in the world, when it comes to driving music along in a rock-steady 4/4). The piece starts off normally enough with James Evans introducing the melody. The excitement gradually builds up. Note what happens from two minutes 55 seconds, after John Dixon's chorus. James and Chloe play one chorus 'trading eights' and then one 'trading fours' and then another 'trading twos'. Absolutely thrilling. It is amazing what is produced by James Evans and this young lady half his age. Just look at the faces of James Evans and Tyler Thompson. They knew something very special was going on. Finally, there is a throbbing 'all-in' chorus in which the two sax players are positively bouncing in their seats. I can tell you the audience loved it and there were tears of joy in the eyes of seasoned veterans.

Now turn up the volume and please watch the video for yourself by clicking here.

I spent quite a bit of time chatting with video-maker James Sterling and his wife Markay during my visit and I can tell you he is a wonderful and generous gentleman.