When Luc Bouchard founded Le Dixieband in 1980, little did he know that 30 years later the band would still be going strong. Yet here we are, and the adventure continues with this fourth CD. Joyful and festive, early 20th century New Orleans music inspires us now more than ever: not only is the repertory incredibly rich, but the music was so far ahead of its time.
Looking back, in the span of just over 80 years, ragtime, Negro spiritual, polka, military marches, blues and classical music merged to form a new art form called jazz. This was a completely unprecedented phenomenon in the history of music. The freeing of the slaves after the long civil war changed the face of New Orleans and opened the door to a new century. The time was marked by innovation as a new American society resolutely turned to the future in order to reconcile with its past. New melodies sprang to life, in which each instrument—sousaphone, banjo and clarinet—was used to improvise its part of the score. What we call “traditional jazz” today was the new music of the time, defying all rhythmic and harmonic convention. Innovation became the hallmark of jazz, and the music has never ceased to evolve, laying the basis for all contemporary commercial or popular music today.
This fourth CD features some rare little gems we found while searching on various American Internet radio stations: Jazz Battle, Once in a While, Alligator Crawl, Brown Sugar and King Porter Stomp. Of course, it also includes some of the classics: Tin Roof Blues, After You've Gone, Tiger Rag and When the Saints Go Marching In (a spiced-up Cajun version).
Our sincere apologies for the historical transgressions we committed with Jeffrey’s vocal pieces. Breaking away from the traditional time period of the music—but not from the traditional line-up—we included A Kiss to Build a Dream On and C’est si bon. Having been sung so wonderfully by Louis Armstrong, these pieces were a perfect challenge for our singer. We selected The House of the Rising Sun for two reasons: it’s set in New Orleans, and it’s a great classic. Smile was Jeffrey’s personal request: he’s dedicated the song to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans on that fateful day of August 29th, 2005. As he says:
The song Smile has many layers of meaning for me. It’s overly optimistic in its message, but carries darker subtexts of pain, and the irony and bitterness of deep loss. These contrasts made me think of the struggle of New Orleans after the disaster of Katrina... Although the song, whose music was written by Charlie Chaplin, has no connection to New Orleans, it contains a sense of both wanting to give up and needing to go on: a fitting tribute to this great and embattled city.
We’re delighted to present this latest opus by Le Dixieband! We hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as we did recording it. A special word of thanks to François and Robert from Studio 270, who believed in us from start to finish. And many thanks to you, the listener, for inviting us into your home!
Matthieu Bélanger, Clarinetist, April 2010