Given that old adage about converts being the most zealous believers, perhaps it should come as no surprise that two of the most prominent current custodians of the New Orleans piano tradition are transplants to the city.
Jon Cleary originally from is England, while Tom McDermott is from right here in St. Louis, but both have made New Orleans their home and have immersed themselves in the history and practice of the city's indigenous music. For today's Music Education Monday, we've got master classes on video from each of them in which they share their knowledge of and perspective on New Orleans piano styles.
Cleary has worked as a sideman with John Scofield, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Ryan Adams, and Eric Burdon, and also leads his own group, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. His video was produced by Artists House Music, and features Cleary discussing important New Orleans pianists such as James Booker, Professor Longhair and Jelly Roll Morton, and addressing a variety of other topics including songwriting technique and collaborating in the studio,
Tom McDermott has lived in New Orleans since 1984. In addition to recording 10 albums as a leader and numerous appearances in film and on TV and national radio, he has performed with the Dukes of Dixieland, arranged music for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and co-founded the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and the the Danza Quartet. His video New Orleans Piano Traditions" was recorded in 2012 at Tulane University.
Rhythm Abstraction: Azure is the first volume of new compositions created as a follow up to 2018’s
release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion
solos. Frank Macchia then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Azure
is the first of three extended play albums of 6-7 compositions which will be released starting in
January and followed up in April and July. In Azure we have a created a group of pieces that continue
our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of
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