Listen to Gwen Thompkins and Jon Cleary on Music Inside Out.
This week, we bring you that funky gentleman in the Ninth Ward, Jon Cleary, who joins us to talk about his native England, his grandmother, the piano back home, his mother's songwriting chops, and a variety of other loves.
Great New Orleans jazz singer Germaine Bazzle’s formal music education began at the Xavier Junior School of Music under the tutelage of the accomplished and very demanding Sister Mary Latitia.
“She is the one, when you hear that little sound that I make, she is the one that demonstrated that to the orchestra when we were playing as she wanted something done,” Bazzle explained. “She wanted to show the trumpets or trombones, the brass people, how to do a certain thing. And when I started doing gigs I found myself doing that.”
Great New Orleans trumpeter and vocalist Gregg Stafford spent much of his childhood in the Central City neighborhood. He saw lots of parades, often sang in church, and developed a real love of music.
When it came time for high school, Stafford had the chance to join the school band — if his mother approved. So he told her, “I don’t have an elective at the moment, so the band instructor asked me, would I be interested in music? ‘Oh no, no, no, no; I don’t have no money to pay for no horn, so you can just scratch that,’” she told him.
Saxophonist Joshua Redman grew up in Berkeley, California, a very high achiever academically who turned to music for fun.
“I loved music, and I loved listening to it and I loved playing it, but I wasn’t serious about it. Music was kind of an escape, it was kind of a relief for me from the more rigorous aspects, the more studious aspects, of academics,” Redman says. “That was kind of how I let myself go and have fun.”
George Cables is a superb pianist, an outstanding composer with a real gift for melody. He was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens. He started piano in grade school, and liked taking traditional lessons and studying classical music right away.
“I did like the piano. I had a crush on my piano teacher,” he said.
Cables studied classical piano at the Manhattan High School for the Performing Arts, and found a way to incorporate jazz into his afternoon commute home.
The only thing more fun than talking to Shannon Powell is listening to him play. Powell is one of the most charismatic drummers to ever grace a stage. His secret? "I'm happy," Powell tells Music Inside Out. "I was a happy child. I'm a happy spirit."
Topsy Chapman is one of New Orleans’ most engaging and soulful singers. Her mix of gospel, blues, traditional jazz and swing proves both captivating and uplifting. And, when Topsy Chapman blends her fine voice with those of her daughters Jolynda Phillips and Yolanda Windsay in the vocal trio Solid Harmony, it’s magic.