|Elena Dorn has been with Yes Ma'am since|
the early days. She plays the violin beautifully
and her subtle improvisations perfectly complement
the textures of the other instruments.
Well, there you have the recipé for a perfect team: a leader who is a dedicated, tireless, directing presence surrounded by other musicians whom he respects and encourages to display their skills.
But is all this really traditional jazz? That's a question I hear some people ask. Well, yes, it certainly is. The links and overlaps between jug bands and string bands and what has become 'conventional' traditional jazz (with a front line of trumpet, trombone and clarinet) go right back to the earliest days; and they have been gloriously revived by the young musicians in the New Orleans of today. Instrumentation in the string bands may be slightly different (though I should mention that Yes Ma'am sometimes - as in the picture below - includes a cornet and trombone), but the principles for playing and interpreting the music are exactly the same.
In the years during which Matt's band has been evolving, there have been several changes of personnel (and I believe he still draws from a pool of players). When I first discovered them on YouTube, they looked like this.
If you would care to hear how they sounded at the end of 2015, click on this performance of Squishin' Bees, an up-tempo 12-bar blues in Bb.
For a very fine video of them with their late-2013 line-up playing a medley, CLICK HERE.
One of my favourites from their earlier days (2011) is this: CLICK HERE to watch it.
The band appeared to be absent from the streets of New Orleans after the end of 2016. According to an unofficial report, it seemed that Matt felt completely exhausted at the end of that year - hardly surprising, in view of the energy and hard work put into every performance. He decided to take a break, during which he could re-charge his batteries, probably compose some more songs, and make plans for the future. Well, I'm pleased to see he's back.