by Patrick Jarenwattananon
Dave Bartholomew, New Orleans royalty. (Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR)
An 89-year-old man was the highlight of a 100-year-old band's performance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Technically, trumpeter Dave Bartholomew isn't part of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, continuously operating in some fashion since 1910 and currently led by drummer Bob French. But Bartholomew is maternal kin to French -- and he's a living legend.
You know, here's the guy who helped write hits for Fats Domino ("Ain't That A Shame," "Blueberry Hill," etc.). The Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, the wild card who's done everything in the record business (and is plenty wealthy for it), the man present at the transition of jump blues to R&B. In episode one of Treme, Davis steals a Dave Bartholomew box set -- the point being that this man has been anthologized in a box set. Oh yeah, and he knows his early jazz plenty well too.
French invited Bartholomew along to play on a few tunes. On 'Fever,' he stepped in for a concise plunger mute solo. On 'At Last,' he interjected seamless obbligato behind vocalist Yolanda Windsay. And French pointed to him to take the lead on 'Tenderly,' accompanied only by banjo and piano. His tone is beautifully clear, his phrasing immaculate, his articulation, high notes and effects gutsy. The man sounded great.
Yolanda Windsay sings, Dave Bartholomew plays, Bob French appears to approve. (Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR)
More photos and notes from the show, after the jump.
Bob French is no joke either -- he's certainly nobility in town. He took over the band from his father, played with Fats Domino himself (at Bartholomew's nomination) and hosts shows on WWOZ, New Orleans' celebrated community radio station. He carries his share of the torch proudly. But all the cameras raced to the front when Bartholomew held aloft his horn, and with good reason.
Before the close, French riled up the crowd with a few 'Who Dat?' calls. Months after the Super Bowl victory, Saints pride is everywhere, even for a fellow like French who precedes the team's existence by decades. That segued, of course, into 'When The Saints Go Marching In' -- and its corollary dancing parade through the aisles, ceremonial umbrellas held aloft. That scene, below:
People who wanted to be in that number. (Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR)