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You don’t know jazz

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Posted: Saturday, July 10, 2010 12:00 am

Do you know the greatest jazz singer of all time? Do you know what dessert goes best with a jazz album? Jazz musicians in Lodi’s live summer music series share their knowledge and love for the music.

Laura Didier channels Doris Day

Q: Why is jazz such a great genre of music?

A: For me, I’m doing the old-school jazz, big band swing because our showcase is a tribute to Doris Day. I love the lyrics and the melodies. The musicians do improvisational jazz with their solos ... it sounds a little bit different each time that you play. What I love about jazz is that it evolves and you never get the same song twice.

For my portion of (the show), I do try to stay very true to her style of singing, which is less improvisational, but close to the melody.

Q: You’ve had the opportunity to speak with Doris Day over the phone. What does she think about your band?

A: She is a very private person. We came to know her just over a year ago through a personal assistant of hers. She opened that door to us and made Doris aware of what we were doing. She has been so incredibly gracious and thankful that we’re keeping the music alive and her audience is still so in love with her. We’ll tell her stories that people share. She’s really a lovely lady.

Q: Do you have a favorite Doris Day song?

A: ... My favorite part of our show is at the end when we do her most popular song, “Que Sera Sera.” Everybody sings along.

Q: Do you remember you first encounter with Jazz music or Doris Day?

A: I’m not sure if I remember the first time. I have always been exposed to classic movies.

Q: What is your favorite jazz moment?

A: Probably one of my favorite moments was when we, out of the blue, got to talk to Doris Day on the phone. We were performing at the Sacramento Jazz Festival during Memorial Day weekend 2009. We were getting ready to go on and (Day’s) assistant ... tells us Doris wants to talk to us on the phone. We got to speak with her, but had to start the show. Jim, the pianist, was on the phone with Doris Day. I got on the stage and told the audience we were on the phone with Doris Day. I said, I think we should all say hello. At one time, 500 people yelled, “Hello, Doris.” She heard it all. I put the mic up to the phone and you could hear she was choked up with emotion.

Jules Broussard has music in his blood

Q: Why is jazz such an important genre?

A: It’s an American art form. It was made and grown in America.

Q: Did you have an epiphany where you realized you love jazz?

A: Well, jazz is built on the blues. It’s like the blues on steroids, and I certainly like the blues. It’s more basic ... It’s like sports — you want to see how fast you can go and spread your wings. Jazz is like the classical era of American music. It has all the elements.

Q: Do you remember the first time you heard a jazz song?

A: My mother liked the blues. In our hometown, Marksville, La., when she would go dancing, she would put me on top of the jukebox so I wouldn’t get in the way. I’d be sitting there and the music would be going right through me.

Q: Who is the best jazz musician?

A: The main one, as far as contributing, would be Louis Armstrong. There’s not much you can do in jazz that Louis Armstrong didn’t do ... he covered all the ingredients.

Q: What should someone who’s never heard a jazz album expect?

A: Authenticity. Music has been such a gold mine for America.

Q: Who is the greatest jazz musician?

A: When you say best, music is only as good as its listener. So, I like other kinds of music as well. There’s a very realistic part of any music, like I like cowboy music. The words make sense. They make you laugh, they make you cry.

Q: What is your show going to be like in Lodi?

A: We aim to please. We even ask for requests.

Q: Do you have a favorite song to perform?

A: No, but I have songs that have worked well, like, “Harlem Nocturne.”

Q: What’s your favorite jazz album?

A: That wouldn’t be by any single artist, but a compilation. I like songs that tell a story. Usually that’s vocal. There’s no favorite singer. There’s a lot of song that have some very deep meaning, like, “Time is so old, love is so brief, love is pure gold, and time a thief.”

Q: Do you have a ritual for listening to jazz? Do you have to eat or drink anything with it?

A: I don’t drink or smoke. I can relax standing up.

Q: What are key instruments in jazz music?

A: You would have to include the piano because, when you play the piano, you have everything right there. The piano has such an extensive range, from bass to treble.

Claudette Stone loves Sinatra, Streisand and Fitzgerald

Q: Why do you think Jazz is such a popular genre?

A: For one thing, it’s really music and that’s what music started out to be in the south.

Q: Who are the best jazz musicians?

A: Ella Fitzgerald is one. Peggy Lee is one, but as far as the men go, Frank Sinatra was my absolute idol. I just thought he was fabulous. Also, Sammy Davis and Barbra Streisand. I could listen to her forever.

Q: What made you fall in love with Ella?

A: Her scatting, my mother was an entertainer and I guess when I was still in the crib, I was listening to Ella recordings. She was a performer back then. She played stride piano, she danced, she sang and she even wanted to be a cotton club girl.

Q: Do you remember the first time you heard jazz?

A: Yeah, but then that’ll tell you how old I am. It was in the ’30s. I went to the premier of “The Wizard of Oz” in ’39. Walt Disney came to our home. He and my mother had an argument because she accused him of using my brother as a model for Mickey Mouse.

(My mother sang at) Arrowhead Springs Motel, and his daughter would babysit my brother. She would dress him up ... in those little fat shoes and he had those little black skinny legs.

Q: What’s your favorite song to sing?

A: “When October Goes,” it’s been requested a lot. I have so many songs that are favorites. One that’s been running through my head for days because I have to memorize it is “I Can’t Make You Love Me if I Don’t” and “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.”

I don’t even think I can say I have an absolute favorite. I love songs that can really tell a story ...

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink while playing or listening to jazz?

A: (My husband and I are) both ice cream freaks. If it was left up to me, we’d eat Death by Chocolate. Now, I eat my strawberry yogurt. I don’t eat ice cream like (other people), I have to put walnuts and sliced bananas.

Q: What should someone who’s never heard a jazz album expect?

A: They can expect to hear some real music.

I think that’s one of the reasons I like Beyonce: She can sing the new songs and sing the (classic) songs. The idea she can do either one makes me think a lot of her. And Natalie Cole — she blows me away.

Q: If you could choose one person to perform with — dead or alive — who would you choose?

A: I would have loved to perform with a kicking, big band. That has been my desire. I’d love to sing a duet with Barbra Streisand. To me, that would be the ultimate.

Q: You are a fan of Sacramento jazz musicians. Who are some of your favorites?

A: Steve Homan. Herman Perez, he’s fabulous. Tom Shove — I started singing professionally with him. I’ve left out Dick Johnson, he’s my mentor. I admire him most. He can go and write a song in two days. He writes a majority of the comedy that we do, including “Hot Flash Blues,” “911,” “Voicemail,” “Paradies on Songs.”


Get caught up in the music: The summer concert list

Live at Wine & Roses: A Marlo Kerner Production

July 14

Tribute to Doris Day: The Tim Martinez Trip with Laura Didier

July 28

Pete Escovido Orchestra

Aug. 11

Gator Beat

Aug. 18

Tom Rigney & Flambeau

Sept. 1

Dick Johnson’s Mardi Gras Band with Claudette Stone

Sept. 8

Jules Broussard

Tickets

All shows are 7:30 p.m. in the garden ballroom.

$35 for preferred seating (first three rows). $30 for all other seating.

Book all shows for $160 ($20 savings).

To purchase tickets, contact the Wine and Roses box office at 371-6117.

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