…is the best traditional New Orleans band in France. Perhaps the only one. They play hardcore Revival Jazz in the style of Kid Thomas Valentine with Manny Paul or John Handy. The band leader Jean Pierre Alessi is representing both these great sax players on his tenor and alto saxophone.
JP, as we call him, often invites special guests from abroad to join his band, as he concludes no one in France knows how to play this style.
I had the honour of delivering clarinet at the “Prisca Caffe” session.
Other international guests represented on this cd is Brian Turnock, Brian Carrick, Big Bill Bissonnette, Hans Zakariasson and Fred Vigorito.
The price is DKK 120,- plus shipping. Please contact me to order a sample.
“The 1965 Jazz Crusade Revisited” so it is little wonder that Mr. Jean-Pierre Alessi, the producer of the album, asked me to write the liner notes. After all the original Jazz Crusade Records was, and still is, mine. J-P, as Alessi is known to jazz fans around the world, has been a friend of mine for over 20 years. He first started coming to my tours in France way back in 1993. He was a reed player just starting out, as I was a trombone player just starting out in 1963, exactly 30 years earlier. The similarities don’t stop there. In fact one could call J-P the Big Bill Bissonnette of the 21st Century. Like me J-P studied the style of his musical idols: Manuel Paul & Capt. John Handy of New Orleans. He often sat in with us during the 1990s and, truth be known, he wasn’t very good. But, he tried hard and we gave him the encouragement he needed. My good friend Paul Boehmke, one of the best traditional jazz reedmen gave him pointers and Paul and I often talked about little J-P and how hard he was trying on our flights back to America. By the early 2000’s J-P was good enough to become a member of one of Lyon’s top jazz bands. But, J-P, again like me, is a leader type and it finally became necessary for him to have his own band so he left that band to start his own. He still wasn’t a class A jazz player but he was coming along fast. The first guest artists he featured on tour with his band were the late Jacques Gauthe and myself. It was the first time Jacques & I toured together and we had a ball. Around this time J-P decided to start his own Record label; again just like I did 30 years earlier. So, as you can see, there is a strong connection. I had only started playing trombone in 1962 while in the U.S. Army so I was just learning to play and trying to hold my own with the guest artists l invited to play with my Easy Riders Jazz Band. Our first recording with guest stars was with Kid Thomas & Manny Paul followed almost immediately by an album with legendary blues singer Victoria Spivey. I was just about able to keep up but as the 1960’s moved on I grew into the trombone player l am today. Once again, like me, J-P grew as a musician. The last time I had the opportunity to play with him was on a French tour in 2004 – 10 long years ago. So when J-P asked me to do these notes I got the chance to hear him in more recent performances. I was bowled over! I consider J-P to now be one of the finest sax players on the jazz scene today. He still plays with all the excitement & verve of those early years but now his technique has caught up with his enthusiasm and he has become an exciting powerhouse of a player. J-P Alessi: the new jazz crusader. Indeed the new Big Bill Bissonnette of the 21st Century. l haven’t commented on the music you are about to hear. Not necessary. You will like it unless you have been dead for at least the last 5 years! Some of my good friends are on this disc. Good musicians all including Brian Carrick, Freddie Vigorito & Henry Lemaire to name just a few. I even get the chance to blow on “Saint Louis Blues” one of my favourite tunes. So have some fun & give a listen. It has all been made possible by the little jazz master from the isles of Sicily who was being born in that same year of 1962 that I first picked up a trombone! He later moved to France and changed the face of New Orleans jazz there.
Big Bill Bissonnette Tbn USA
It’s been 50 years since Big Bill Bissonnette put together what is arguably the finest New Orleans Jazz recording of all time. The date was Friday, December 3, 1965, the location was the Moose Lodge Hall in Stamford Connecticut, and the band consisted of Kid Thomas, Jim Robinson, John Handy, Sammy Penn, Sammy Rimington, Bill Sinclair, Dick McCarthy and Dick Griffith. The title of the album was The December Band, on Big Bill’s Jazz Crusade label, and they nearly blew the roof off of Moose Hall. The four featured New Orleans musicians were hand-picked by Bill Bissonnette and Bill Sinclair, and the rest is history. Here we are 50 years later, and saxophonist JP Alessi has done the impossible. He’s gotten as close to that 1960s Jazz Crusade sound as one can get. He too hand-picked the musicians for these sessions, and it sure paid off. With JP we get Manny Paul on tenor and John Handy on Alto. With Jesper we get Sammy Rimington and George Lewis. With Hans, we get Jim Robinson and Louis Nelson. With Cyrille, we get Bill Sinclair and Alton Purnell. With Henry Lemaire we get Dick Griffith and George Guesnon. With Eric Di Tursi we get Joe Watkins and Sammy Penn. With Brian Turnock and Jacky Boyadjian we get Dick McCarthy and Slow Drag. Add Big Bill himself, Fred Vigorito, and Vincent Hurel, and you have New Orleans Jazz at its finest. From the opening number, Moonlight and Roses, with a trombone lead, one gets the feeling that something great is happening. JP’s solos range from the sweet and beautiful on Just as I Am, My Love (JP’s tune) and Rugged Cross, to the hard driving Handy and Manny sounds on Hindustan and FP Boogie. Jesper is always there with his wonderful fills and thrilling choruses, and it’s all held together with superb drumming, solid bass playing, steady banjo playing, and the incredible Cyrille Ouanich on piano. Hans plays his part beautifully in the style of Jim Robinson and Louis Nelson, and hearing Brian Carrick on The Old Rugged Cross is an extra treat. All in all, this is a superb recording, capturing the excitement of the December Band 50 years later, and JP Alessi is to be congratulated on this, his 25th CD!
Fred Vigorito (Cornet) USA 2014