25 December 2015


A few years ago, a blog reader asked me to have a look at the video of Chloe Feoranzo and Conrad Cayman playing and singing the duet What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
I had not previously heard of Chloe and Conrad but I was immediately enchanted. It must be one of the sweetest performances by just two musicians ever to appear on YouTube. If you haven't yet seen the video, please have a look by clicking on here. Isn't that delightful?

But after that touching, gentle performance (in 2012), fast forward to April 2016 and watch Chloe playing the C melody sax, trading bars at high speed with James Evans. The final couple of minutes of this video (the last four choruses) are sensational: click here to view it. On that evidence (Chloe had just moved to New Orleans a few days earlier and this was her first full gig with the band) I would say Chloe was at that time the best and most exciting traditional jazz reed player aged under 25 in the world. She is brilliant on saxes and clarinet and also plays ukulele and she sings most beautifully. What a talented young lady!

And then, for more excitement, watch both Conrad and Chloe in the same week playing Fidgety Feet in New Orleans with The Shotgun Jazz Band by clicking here.

When I previously visited New Orleans in April 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Conrad who, like me, was there for the French Quarter Festival. 

He appears in an exciting video I made at the time, guesting with The Shotgun Jazz Band in Climax Ragclick here to view it.

Conrad was involved in several musical ventures and had recently gone full-time as a musician and band-leader.

When I returned to New Orleans in April 2016, I had not been in town for more than half an hour when I bumped into Conrad again. And this time Chloe was with him! Meeting them both together was a most joyful event for me. They were about to listen to Marla Dixon's wonderful Shotgun Jazz Band at The Spotted Cat and - of course - to sit in for a few tunes.

Chloe has been playing trad jazz festivals since the age of 15. She went off to college in St. Louis but decided to drop out after only two years because her career had taken over: she had so many attractive gigs in her diary that she was too busy to go on attending lessons! Roots American artist Pokey LaFarge had spotted her playing with a local band and asked her to tour with his band. She did that for a few years, travelling all over the world.

In April 2016, she took the decision to move home to New Orleans and was immediately in demand to play with several bands. I guessed she would stay happy and extremely busy. And Chloe does not feel that she is exclusively a traditional jazz player. She also plays modern as well as various ethnic folk styles.

Earlier in California, Conrad and Chloe, together with trumpet-player Justin Au, had been the nucleus of a small group calling itself The JC Jazz Crew. May I suggest you check out their website: www.jcjazzcrew.com. And have a look at this charming video: Click Here. If you enjoyed that, try this one, which is delightful too (and it features a beautiful cat): Click Here.

They made some great videos in Conrad's living room. Curiously enough, they really enjoyed sitting on the floor to play. So when they made a CD, they called it Four on the Floor (including Conrad's vacuum cleaner, which happens to feature in some of the videos!). An artistic friend, Thomas Yamaoka, produced these very effective front and back covers for the CD:
Conrad very kindly gave me a copy of the CD and both he and Chloe autographed it for me. What a souvenir! 
And I must tell you that Chloe's mother, Donna, did the artwork for the inside of the CD.

A few days later, their colleague Justin Au arrived in New Orleans and he too sat in with The Shotgun Jazz Band at The Spotted Cat.
Conrad, Chloe, Justin.
Justin comes from a famous jazzing family. He and his brothers Gordon and Brandon have also been playing traditional jazz since their youth. They were influenced by their uncle, Howard Miyata, who plays tuba and trombone with The High Sierra Jazz Band. Justin has played and recorded with many of the 'big names' of today; and he also works in Sacramento, teaching music and traditional jazz on various youth programmes.

The CD 'Four on the Floor' is a delight. Conrad explained to me that, because he and Justin live six hours apart, and Chloe was touring, the three friends got together only once or twice  a year, including November for the San Diego Jazz Festival. Just for fun, they made a video, playing the Stars Wars Cantina Band Song.
(They were amazed that it had been watched 565,000+ times on YouTube by May 2016. Judge it for yourself by clicking here.) This led to the idea of recording an album; but it took another year to make and then a further year to mix, master and produce, finally appearing in November 2015.

With a guest on four of the eleven tracks, and vocals on five tracks, there is technically brilliant music in a variety of moods, with some slick arrangements. The very popular Katie Cavera on banjo and bass is one of the guests; the other is Corey Gemme on trombone (though elsewhere he also plays reeds, cornet, sousaphone and is a composer!).

For example, there's an astonishing number of clever touches to enjoy in Riverboat Shuffle, which they take at quite a pace. 

These modest young people are altogether charming and amazingly talented. Let us look forward to many years of great music from them.

Conrad told me the JC Jazz Crew were planning to be together again next in November 2016.