Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Big Sam's Funky Nation--A Jazz Shout-Out

I feel sorry that most of you people are not lucky enough to live in a place as cool as New Orleans. Yeah, that so-and-so Katrina kicked our arses from here to next year, but I promise you, there is no other place in this country (and likely, the whole world too) that a person could be fortunate enough to come from. Seriously folks, where else can you get the cuisine of Paris, the architecture of Spain, and the religious traditions of the Caribbean, all in one place? Where else will you find Jazz music as good as what can be found in the average, water-soaked, hole-in-the-wall joint of New Orleans?

And while we're at it, let's clear something up. I'm talking about the second part of our name. Please, do not pronounce it as: "New awr-leenz" or "New awr-lee-uh nz". The one and only way it should be said is: "New awr-luh nz". Well, if you're here in the city, you will probably hear it pronounced as "N'awlins" because we prefer to use the "r" sound only in words where there are no "r"'s present (e.g. oil, boil, toilet). Don't worry if this rule makes no sense to you. It's more of an inside joke for those who have actually lived here for a period of time.

This morning I was slumming on MySpace and I got a message from one of my favorite local Jazz musicians, a cat named Sam Williams. Big Sam and I go way back. I don't know if I first met him through my little brother or from watching him play around town. I'm pretty sure he used to play in the Li'l Stooges Brass Band with my brother for a while.

He's one of the dedicated musicians that came back after the storm. I'm sure that wasn't an easy decision to make. After all, Sam could easily have relocated to some place else and continued making music. Right now he's touring in Europe but I hope he'll be coming back soon. Meanwhile, I think anyone who likes Jazz should check out his page at

Big Sam's Funky Nation

(Left to Right) Jamelle Williams, Keith Richardson, Big Sam

Big Sam at Hudson River Rocks, Ny
August 2005
Photo by Jim Criskos

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