Below you'll find descriptions of the various musical aggregations in which you can hear my clarineticisms. Check out the calendar for dates. If you wish to hire any of these groups or me individually, please contact me: email or 612-250-5719
Patty and the Buttons=Buttons
Bill Evans New Orleans Jazz Band=BENJB
Southside Aces are a six-piece traditional jazz band whose membership is composed of Dave Michael, drums; Robert Bell, guitar/banjo; Erik Jacobson, sousaphone; Steve Sandberg, trombone; Zack Lozier, trumpet/cornet; and myself, clarinet. Erik and I are co-leaders of the band. Erik comes from the New Orleans brass band tradition and back around the turn of the century had a hankering to form a dance hall band. At the same time I sat a short distance away in South Minneapolis wondering just whom out there might be hankering to form a dance hall band. In 2003 the fates conspired to bring us together. Our repertoire not only brings you classics from Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, et al, but brass band titles such as “Palm Court Strut,” and “Mardi Gras In New Orleans. The Aces also pride themselves on upholding the New Orleans tradition of absorbing the popular music of the day, so you will even hear tunes off our bandstand from this century. You wouldn't believe how Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black," or Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" sounds through a New Orleans filter.
Patty and the Buttons
If you ever need a quartet of underdog instruments to storm the castle—if the castle were made from, let’s say, stones that didn’t swing hard enough—then we’re your fellas. The Patty of this aggravation, accordionist Patrick Harison, has been all over the world with his forty-pound bellows, including time spent in New Orleans. He knows his way around the jazz. The Buttons include guitarist Mark Kreitzer. You could set your schedule to his rock-steady rhythm and never miss taking your medication. Keith "Meat Plate" Boyles holds forth on bass and bacon. And my clarinet, of course, rounds out the we-got-picked-on-in-school picture. Jazz, including a good chunk of the Sidney Bechet repertoire, blues, old-timey music, a little of this and a little of that is what you’ll hear when we come rumbling across the drawbridge.
The Bill Evans New Orleans Jazz Band
This group includes original members of the Hall Brothers Jazz Band. The Hall Brothers band played traditional New Orleans music in Minnesota for several decades beginning in the late 1950s. I was very fortunate to have come under the tutelage of the Bill Evans band in 1998, and today play by their side. This is the band that lit the fire under me to play this stuff, and continues to do so every time we get together. The band usually appears as a six-piece with leader Bill Evans, trombone; Charlie DeVore, cornet; me, clarinet; Chuck DeVore, drums; Mike Polad, piano and/or Dave McCurdy banjo/guitar; and Steve Pikal, bass. For me, this is an exhilarating learn as you go. There are hundreds of songs in their repertoire, and any given night I can expect about a third of the tunes they call I will not have played before. I’ve been with them over a decade now, so at least I’ve reduced my ignorance from the 98% with which I started. They’ve always been friendly, however, about my bandstand education. You can tell it’s a new one on me if you see Charlie smiling at me as his left hand pats my right shoulder. More than likely he’s saying, “You’re going to like this one, Tony!”
In the summer of Ought Nine I was asked to provide music for a poolside swimsuit fashion show that included French, English and Americana fashions. These things happen. The event organizer requested music that could span all three styles and summed it up by saying, “you know, something Charles Trenet-ish.” Out of this was born French 75. Singer Maud Hixson leads us through a repertoire of what she coined, “Continental Jazz.” Compositions such as “Plus Je T’Embrasse,” and just about anything by Cole Porter shows our French flavor. It doesn’t hurt that Maud sings fluently in French. Wait until you hear “Stardust” with the French lyrics. The English side of our prism sounds great from Noel Coward’s perspective, with tunes like “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “A Room With A View.” Americana? “Summer Wind” ala Frank, or “In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening” ala Rosie, do quite nicely. I made special arrangements for clarinet, tenor, guitar/accordion, bass and drums to give Maud a tasteful, swinging backdrop. French 75, incidentally, is the name of a World War I cocktail made from gin, lemon, sugar and champagne. The cocktail itself was named for the powerful French 75mm Howitzer artillery piece. Maud likes to say, "It's a good policy to name your band after a cocktail."
The above-mentioned Bill Evans switches to playing bass, and along with Dave McCurdy on guitar, I play my clarinet with Henry Blackburn. Henry can usually be seen with a trio of reeds bristling in front of him: alto and soprano saxophones, and clarinet. This is definitely still a New Orleans outfit, but more like the one you could take home to meet your parents. We explore the gentler—just the strings and reeds you’ll notice—but still swinging side of the music. The music of clarinet and soprano great, Sidney Bechet, finds a home here. The band is glad to show itself in a concert hall, but it seems we’re happiest next to potted palms at a luncheon, or in the middle of your living room enlivening the occasion.