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22 January 2017


Yet another interesting young band has come to my attention (mainly through YouTube) in recent days. It is based in New Orleans.

Actually it would be better to describe it as A Young Man with a Project rather than a Band, because it does not seem to have regular personnel. Various groupings of talented musicians from other bands are assembled under the name of John Zarsky and The Trad Stars.
I know nothing about it apart from what is revealed on YouTube and the band's webpage. Sample them (in quintet form, without drums) playing Milenburg Joys here:

John Zarsky is a young singer, arranger and trumpet player who seems to have studied (presumably music) at the University of Texas in Austin and then to have settled in New Orleans, perhaps in 2012.

He sets himself the goal of playing the works of Morton, Ellington, and many others as well and as respectfully as he possibly can. It appears that, to achieve this, he prepares charts (some of them inevitably complex) and then recruits four of five of the finest reading musicians based in the City to play them with him.

To judge from videos and the album produced, these musicians have been the following (not to mention a few more I can't identify) - a stellar cast indeed:

John Zarsky - trumpet and vocals
David L. Harris - trombone
Haruka Kikuchi - trombone
Charlie Halloran - trombone
Colin Myers - trombone
Joe Goldberg - clarinet
Chloe Feoranzo - clarinet
Jason Danti - clarinets and sax
Mark Weliky - guitar, banjo
Alex Belhaj - banjo
Cassidy Holden - string bass
Calvin Martin - string bass
Jason Jurzak - sousaphone
Devon Taylor - sousaphone
Mike Voelker - drums
Geoff Clapp - drums

There is a well-recorded video of a sextet line-up. The performance includes The Uptown Ruler (a composition by Zarsky himself). And in You Made Me Love You When I Saw You Cry, there is a notable bowed solo chorus on the string bass by Cassidy and a pretty improvised chorus by Chloe Feoranzo. You can watch the video here: