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New Orleans Jazz Trumpeter Leroy Jones

Leroy Jones Inspiring Youth to Love and Play Jazz!

Interview by Paul Cody

The legendary jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones is known to music lovers as the "keeper of the flame" for traditional New Orleans jazz and to critics as one of the top musicians ever produced by the Crescent City.

"The mission of the Leroy Jones Quintet is to expose audiences everywhere to the authentic music of New Orleans, the music of Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Danny Barker and all the other greats who have helped create the rich gumbo that is the sound of New Orleans," he says, "while putting our own more modern stamp on it."

Jones himself, a native of New Orleans, whose playing has been described as a blend of Louis Armstrong and bebop virtuoso Clifford Brown, has been a critical figure in the history of New Orleans music.

A member of the New Orleans Jazz Hall of Fame, he was leader at the tender age of 12, of the seminal Fairview Band, a brass band whose alumni have included some of the best known musicians in New Orleans. It was the Fairview Brass Band which is widely credited with restoring interest in the brass band tradition of New Orleans. Today, in fact, New Orleans has more brass bands performing than at any time in the city's history – an achievement that can be traced back directly to the Fairview Band and its successor the Leroy Jones Hurricane Brass Brand.

Paul;  Leroy,  What abou your Album "Talkin' Bout New Orleans" ?

Leroy;  The album I'm Talkin' Bout New Orleans is a compilation of original compositions and arrangements that represent a variety of the musical genres that have influenced and shaped my sound...

Paul;  Leroy, please tell us about The New Orleans Music Hall of Fame

Leroy;  The New Orleans Music Hall of Fame basically honors veteran New Orleans musicians who have significantly contributed to the unique musical heritage and culture of New Orleans. 

Paul;  What about The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation?

Leroy;  They are a non-profit organization that provides musical resources to young aspiring jazz musicians. The program once a week is free for those young musicians who make the audition. They also produce concerts featuring jazz and other genres of music. These are open and free to the public. 

Paul;   Leroy, how would you define Jazz music?

Leroy;   The literal definition of Jazz is improvisation. It provides an instrumentalist or vocalist freedom of musical expression within the parameters of a specific musical composition.

Paul;  What makes jazz music so challenging to play?

Leroy;  The thing that makes jazz music so challenging to play is that in addition to possessing an understanding of rhythm, harmony and melody, a musician must have imagination. Imagination is not something that can really be taught.

 Jazz News,"Trumpeter Leroy Jones wins two Best Of The Beat Awards"

 

Paul;   Jazz music evolved into an expression of freedom, but what purpose did it serve initially?

Leroy;  Before the soloist was brought to the forefront of this musical form, Jazz, Raggedy music or Ragtime, as it was once called, was meant for dancing. In the early days of the music's development, it was played within an ensemble context, strictly instrumental, before the advent of the Jazz vocalist and instrumental soloist.

Paul;  Who were the pioneers of this music that became the art form called jazz?

Leroy;  The pioneers of this music that became the art form none as jazz were predominantly African American. Arguably Jazz Music has its roots in New Orleans and was a result of the African diasporas as a result of the slave trade, along with the intermingling and fusion of African and European culture.

Paul;  Is it possible to maintain a living exclusively performing within the genre Jazz?

Leroy;   I think it is possible to maintain a living exclusively performing within the Jazz genre. But I also believe it depends on where you live. Being a musician residing in New Orleans all my life, for the most part I've always been able to work on a steady basis, especially performing traditional Jazz. This is probably due to the fact that New Orleans is a tourist town and famous for its music, cuisine and historic sites. Visitors have always come to the city to see musicians play traditional Jazz.

Paul;  Who were amongst the first women in Jazz, instrumentalists or vocalists?

Leroy;   Pianist Lil' Hardin, Blues vocalists Gertrude Pridgett aka Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, and British born pianist Mariam McPartland, to name a few.

 
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