Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Panorama Jazz Band (Spotted Cat, New Orleans, 12/29/12)

I haven't been writing much lately, save for some more personal material.  It was a busy holiday season.  But I have seen some music.  Notably, the very eclectic Tar Heel Sound Fest a couple of weeks back, and the more recent double bill of Jenny Besetzt and Bleeding Rainbow at Duke Coffeehouse (I hope to post at least some photos of those shows soon, if I ever catch up).

But I want to flash back to last year first.  Well, December 29th, anyway.  I was down in New Orleans visiting family and friends, and trying to get over the flu.  And what better way to heal thyself than a solid drenching in good food, drink, and music, right?  At least in New Orleans!  (if it don't work, at least ya get a little lagniappe)

Well, my lagniappe this Saturday night was the Panorama Jazz Band.  And while the music may not have soothed my savage cough, it sure did wonders for my soul.  I had not gone out in the Marigny since forever, and never to the Spotted Cat.  My old friend David said the leader of this jazz band went to French immersion school with his boy (and some kid named Pitt-Jolie or something).  Anyway, a friend's friend, jazz, New Orleans... despite my roots, I'm not the most schooled aficionado of jazz.  But I'm always trying to deepen those roots.  Plus, I'm here, why not?  Might be a little fun, eclectic, intellectual...

But this was no Preservation Hall trad-jazz history lesson. When the Panorama Jazz Band kick in, your feet can't help but start moving (yes, even mine!).  All-acoustic instrumentation belies the raucousness that ensues when they play.  The prominent backing of tuba, and percussion right up there with Stanton Moore, ties them to their NOLA base.  But the rest of the brass section and accordion take you to parts unknown.  The banjo gives it a little Dixieland kick to go with the more modern brass vibe, and the rest of the mix.  Styles jump around from song to song, so you have no idea where you're going to end up on the globe.  But you'll sure as hell dance all the way across it!  Paris, Istanbul, Argentina, a quick cruise back home, and then you up and hop a flight to Macedonia.
Bandleader and clarinetist Ben Schenck's seemingly reserved personality is shown to be a ruse once he takes the stage, leading the songs and the party, playing and waving his horn in the air (like he just don't care!).  And the rest of this band's got chops!  I think they're sort of the resident band at the Spotted Cat, and it shows.  The Panorama Jazz Band is equal parts Rebirth Brass Band and Paris Combo... or is that King Oliver as played by Kocani Orkestar?  Bollywood through a klezmer lens?  I... just... don't... know!   But there is nothing historical or traditional about this band, other than the wealth of tradition they build heavily upon.

I showed up a couple of months too early, but I still got to enjoy carnival season in New Orleans. The Panorama Jazz Band gave me my Mardi Gras in December!

Ahhh, joie de vivre!

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