Date Posted: 2008-08-18
Daryl Sherman: NEW O`LEANS
By Rhodes Spedale
The artist herself ably states the premise of this recording as follows:
“At dawn on Sunday August 28, 2005 my friends Janice Martin and Rhodes Spedale hurriedly packed essentials into the car and hit the highway to evacuate New Orleans. So did many other folks creating a nightmare of stop & stop traffic. After eleven hours (of what is usually a one hour drive), the car refused to go any further, landing in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. As the overheated vehicle is being pushed to the side of the road, a kind lady and her mother offered to take them into their home for the duration of Hurricane Katrina. They remained displaced for eight months, renting an apartment until a return to New Orleans was safe. (To ease the pain Rhodes even managed to get steady piano gigs in Donaldsonville.)
Monday, August 29, 2005, throughout the storm Houcine Harrabi, George Buck`s trusted assistant, stayed by George`s side at the Jazzology headquarters on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. George`s wife Nina was in Europe and George refused to evacuate. Houcine`s neighbor reached him by phone the next day describing how sewers were making bubbling noises and water started to gush out; how she climbed up to her attic as water rose as high as the gutters; that she witnessed Houcine`s house become totally flooded; that the next sound she heard was a motor boat which came and rescued her.
Houcine lost everything in that house. Finally convinced they should leave, George, with Houcine at the wheel, began an odyssey which also lasted several months. Upon returning, they found important archival material stored in a warehouse had been destroyed. Moreover, it was rather difficult filling orders when postal services hadn`t yet been restored. Nonetheless, The GHB Jazz Foundation was up and running, and their commitment to preserve this music seems to have become even stronger. Live music abounds downstairs at The Palm Court and the in-house studio is busy as ever. After hearing Barbara Lea`s recent recording with a New Orleans band, I was inspired to find my own way to express feelings for NOLA. Thanks to Barbara Motley I got to perform at her lovely boite Le Chat Noir and thanks to George, Houcine, engineer Richard Bird and these terrific musicians, here is the result.”
It`s been said that what is loved most about New Orleans is that one never knows when or where a parade will break out. You can be standing in line at a corner grocery in the French Quarter when a brass band will wend its way along the street. Traffic will be stopped and diverted as you sit in your car at midday, allowing a parade the right of way to celebrate weddings, divorces, supermarket openings or the paving of a street.
It is this SPIRIT of New Orleans that pervades -- yes, enables -- life here. Outsiders wondered how New Orleanians could celebrate Mardi Gras after the Katrina carnage. Not only is it a preservation of the cultural heritage but also an expression of hope and faith for the future. Without that spirit there would
be no romance and history here -- and no Crescent City.
With consummate, tasteful guitar stylings from James Chirillo and some of the best jazzmen in New Orleans, Daryl Sherman captures and preserves the spirit. The songs she`s chosen are more than nostalgic reminiscences. They speak of love, lost love, loss of hope but also weave a broad swath of optimism. The proof is in the listening. The endeavor is grounded in the bass of Al Bernard, a veteran of the Dukes of Dixieland and Al Hirt bands, and you can`t get more New Orleans than that; in fact, his dad was Louis Prima`s bassist for decades. Tom Fischer is one of the most on-call reed players in town, equally proficient on clarinet and tenor, regularly heard with Banu Gibson and Lionel Ferbos. Connie Jones, cornetist, has appeared with the legendary Basin Street Six, Jack
Teagarden, Pete Fountain, Dick Sudhalter, The Dukes and led his own Crescent City Jazz Band. He`s heard only on the Dick Hyman ode to a reptilian.
Though born into a musical family in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Daryl Sherman is as Manhattan as Gristede`s,
Katz Delicatessen, or the Waldorf-Astoria, where she`s been ensconced at Cole Porter`s piano for over a decade. Her affinity for and proficiency at the art
of jazz has been developed through years of concert and club appearances and a consistent presence on records. A
distinctive singer, Daryl`s phrasing, enunciation and diction tellingly communicate the lyrics of the songs and the composer`s message. Her piano playing as well caught the attention of Marian McPartland who`s featured Daryl twice on NPR`s Piano Jazz. On this CD, Daryl`s composing and arranging talents come to the fore. She enhances the material. Her use of motifs -- even leitmotifs in some instances -- in Way Down
Yonder/Louisiana, Petite Fleur, Mr Bojangles, S`Mardi Gras and Doin The Chameleon are simple, apt, surprising, and satisfying. Her original Wendell`s Cat, for long-time George Buck friend and associate, Wendell Echols, is poignant in both words and music.
The aforementioned spirit of the City is evoked in this lead-off selection. The French-Italian-Spanish-German-Afro-American cultural heritage demands of New Orleanians to