Sally Newhart has lived in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Louisiana. She likes the music and gardening in New Orleans and plans to stay.
Will post information when available
The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band: More than a Century of a New Orleans Icon
In 1910, the Tuxedo Jazz Band played its first show at the Tuxedo Dance Hall in Storyville under Oscar Celestin. The popular ensemble went on to play all over New Orleans, as well as across the South and the nation. In 1953, it became the first jazz band to play the White House. The band has punctuated jazz history and produced some of the most memorable musicians of the past century: Bob French, Albert French, William Ridgley, Octave Crosby, Louis Armstrong and more. Author Sally Newhart has written a definitive and captivating history of the band from inception to present, including oral histories, archival photos, discography and a previously unpublished complete list of members since 1910.
What are the most important and interesting things readers can learn from your book, “The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band”?
The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band contributed more than music during the formative years of the jazz genre. Oscar Celestin, the first leader, helped form and was promptly elected president of the American Federation of Musicians Local 496, Colored. This band, with their beginnings in a Storyville music hall, successfully became the most sought after band in New Orleans society.
What motivated you to tell this story?
My friendship with Bob French, the band’s leader from 1977-2011, got me thinking about writing the history of the band he inherited from his father, Albert. The small number of books about early New Orleans jazz bands convinced me how important it is for someone to start documenting. If not me, who? If not now, when? That so few of the musicians today actually knew their counterparts from the early 1900’s suggests that much intimate familiar history is no longer available. Oral history is good, written is better.
What was the most enjoyable part of the process of writing this book?
The research. Hours in the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University becoming acquainted with past musicians while reading about them and listening to taped interviews with them. Hours listening to Bob French talk about the band, and hours listening to the band. Oh, the torture of it all. Not!!
How do you think this story resonates with Louisiana (culture, readers, history, Louisianans, etc.)?
I worked to weave together enough detail about the area, the time period, and the lives of the musicians, to help the reader feel a connection to how a musician lived life in New Orleans over the past 100 years.
The book was never meant to describe the technicalities of jazz as a music form.
What excites you about the festival?
The confluence of so many authors, readers and books to create the Perfect Literary Storm.
If you are coming to the Book Festival and have a personal story about this band or any other early Jazz Band, I’d love to hear it.
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