What The Critics Say:
"Above all, the LRJE reminds you that New Orleans music was intended for dancing-the kind you need a partner for. The affable sousaphone,
rat-a-tat drums and smartly crackling banjo evoke the swirl of crinolines and cuffed pants over hardwood floors. Yet the band's vigor and sass prevent
the formation of any nostalgic mildew."
- People Weekly
"You could practically hear the paddlewheel slapping the Mississippi Thursday, during
the Louisiana Jazz Repertory Ensemble's Town
Hall concert of mostly neglected traditional
New Orleans jazz."
- New York Post
"With hell-raising hamminess, they exploded with classics such as "The Canal Street Blues,"
"The Livery Stable Blues," "Tiger Rag," "Bouncing Around," and"It's Jam Up." ...Throughout the evening, the musicians were models of period showmanship - calling out whoops, wearing animated expressions, and smiling at the audience and among themselves. But outstanding musicianship - never heavy-handed or cocky - ruled the airwaves."
- Bangor Daily News
"The sound of the Ensemble is uncompromisingly traditional but its musicians are no
mere imitators. The boldness of their improvisation and the "tightness"of their ensemble playing has drawn enthusiastic comments from the most exacting critics all over the world."
- Hongkong Hilton
"What the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble does is about as faithful to classic jazz as anyone can get."
- The Times-Picayune
"Despite that, the entire night sparkled with the authentic taste of New Orleans.
It was all I could do to stay seated; the beat made my feet want to dance. By placing the pieces
they performed in historical context, the Ensemble managed to bring a heightened visual
image to the entertainment they were providing. Thursday night was the closest I had ever gotten
to the old South, and I savored every taste. Throughout the concert, the LRJE proved that they
could not only jam, but they could soulfully slow it down for a few old southern hymns,
including a banjo solo in `The Old Rugged Cross´."
- Calvin College Chimes
"It was a joyous, one-of-a-kind moment
and one I'll always remember. . . . Somehow, it didn't feel like some elite Arts Experience. Instead, the music was genuine, it was challenging, and above all, it was joyous entertainment"
- Edge Magazine
"The nine musicians are true masters
of their instruments, and they fling
themselves into their music with
an enthusiasm that's contagious"
- The Greenville News
"The LRJE takes you to a place where black jazz, Italian, Mexican and Caribbean music mingle with marches, the music of France and the classical music of America from Louis Moreau Gottschalk to create the lively and extensively thought-out musical forms that kept the New Orleans public dancing from the turn of the century into the Depression. Sure, it's simple. Everything is neatly divided into eight-bar chunks, the rhythm never is ethereal, always syncopated, and the melodies are embellished rather than improvised upon. But when it's done with care and accomplished on authentic instruments, the sound rises above its apparent limit. Astonishing musicianship, genuine tonal colors (growls, rips, shakes, smears, idiosyncratic vibrato, arcane tuba oompah), informed cohesive group playing and the will to dig up and learn music are just a few of the qualities that set the LRJE apart."
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
"But Dixieland and Preservation Hall are just a small part of the New Orleans heritage. The purpose of the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble is, as stated in the notes on its first album, 'to recover the heroic era of classic jazz and to restore it to its original luster.' . . . Even with these changes, the members
of the band have a loose, easy relationship. The tempos are relaxed, and there is none of the anxious rushing that takes over most groups that attempt
this kind of period jazz. By getting the tempos right and feeling at home in them, the ensemble provides reminders of some of the charms of New Orleans jazz that have been buried under repeated heavy-handed playing."
- The New York Times
"POLAND - I will never forget the evening I spent in New Orleans in the company of new friends. Instead of going to Bourbon Street, which is besieged by tourists, we opted for the uptown cafe in the Lafayette Hotel, where - according to connoisseurs - you can hear the most authentic vintage jazz. The moment for such a nostalgic trip seemed appropriate, because a few hours later I had become an "Honorary International Citizen of New Orleans" with a diploma signed by the mayor and presented to me by USIA director Ed Karnacki. The music played by the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble carried us straight back to the "heroic" era of jazz from the beginning of the century. Joyous, irresistible swing exhilarated the listeners and instantaneously filled the floor with happy, dancing couples."
"What distinguishes the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble from the hundreds of groups around the globe playing what is variously labeled Trad, New Orleans or Dixieland jazz is its absolute authenticity. And it has come as a revelation to all who thought they knew what the genuine article was. One thing it is not, for instance, is the all-pervasive, brash and brassy music which emanates from the bars and strip clubs of Bourbon Street. Despite a burgeoning international reputation, with appearances as far a field as Moscow and Hong Kong, and radio, TV and record performances, New Orleans is still the wellspring of the band's inspiration - both musically and environmentally. "We regard ourselves both as resuscitators of this musical tradition and a living part of it," explained Starr. The interaction between the musicians and the people they play for - many of whom actually danced to the bands whose repertoires the LRJE is reviving - is as important in creating the group's genuineness as the long hours spent delving into the archives for buried tunes." - Quavers
"You might think that a band bearing such a stodgy name and pursuing such a serious documentary purpose would make music that comes out stiff or at best tame by present day "liberated" standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the layers of historical corruption, dilution and mass-market popularization were stripped away in the research process, the creators of the LRJE found a more vital, more energetic, more infectious kind of music than what today is known as "Dixieland." At a performance of the LRJE one hears none of the hackneyed standards which the purveyors of Dixieland-as-tourist-business never seem to tire of grinding out. . . . In addition to their triumphant and growing success with contemporary audiences, the Ensemble has received glowing tributes from people who remember the music as it was originally played. "Listening to them carries me back to my early playing days in New Orleans. They really have the sound," says 73-year-old Danny Barker, the New Orleans-born banjo player who is an alumnus of the Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington bands. Jazz historian Al Rose agrees: " (They are) the most authentic band on the scene today. They play like the bands I grew up listening to in New Orleans. I haven't heard that sound in 40 years." - Preserving the Tradition
"It's not Dixieland - especially the streamlined variety
which found favor with a new generation of jazz fans after WWII.
Nor is it New Orleans trad jazz Preservation Hall style. Instead it's the sort of music - sweetly melodic and eminently danceable - which evokes haunting echoes of an earlier era, specifically, the Crescent City circa 1880-1929. By using authentic period instruments like the mandolin, sousaphone, and Albert-system clarinet, and rigorously researching their material to capture the proper rhythms and phrasings, the Louisiana Repertory
Jazz Ensemble has resurrected one of jazz's earliest ancestors. Thanks to the LRJE's dedication and discipline, they are able to recreate a style of music laced with charm and elegance, and
inject it with a jolt of enthusiasm and vitality - dusting off the museum cobwebs and bringing a new sparkle and sheen to the scintillating sounds, in the process."
- Chicago Jazz Festival
"The Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble of New Orleans were spiffed out in
tuxedos and wing collars, the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium adorned with potted palms. A full house had come for ' the sound and spirit of the heroic era of classic jazz 1890-1930.'
These guys have got the chops . . . and the love. Theirs is no dry rundown of incunabular texts. Rather, they recall the swagger and passion which animated the early groups. Hear them live, especially for dancing, or check out their four LP's."
"The Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble is not an old New Orleans jazz band, but a disciplined, balanced mix of age and youth that faithfully re-creates the spirit, elements, and characteristic colors of classic New Orleans jazz. The group has done a good deal of research. Yet there is nothing stuffy or stiff about it; the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble swings and swaggers with free-wheeling, driving authenticity."
-High Fidelity Magazine
"Mais si vous cherchez un peu, vous irez au Mapple Leaf Bar, Oak Street, où chaque mardi et
mercredi les jeunes musiciens du Louisiana repertory Jazz Ensemble donnent à entendre a plus parfaite restitution du jazz de Storyville. C'est là que les Orléanais viennent danser sur «leur» musique. If you search a little (in New Orleans) you will find your way to the Maple Leaf Bar on Odak Street, where each Tuesday and Wednesday the young musicians of the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble make it possible for one to hear the most perfectly restored jazz of Storyville. It is there that the New Orleanians themselves go to dance to their music."
- Air France Atlas
"The two places you can come closest to hearing what this music actually sounded like 60 years ago are Preservation Hall on St. Peter Street and the Maple Leaf Bar on the other side of town on Oak Street, and there only on Wednesday nights, when the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble plays.
The Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, the most authentic, traditional jazz group in town and the only one regularly offering Jelly Roll Morton arrangements, play for dancing."
- The City / New Orleans For Visitors
"Perhaps more to the point is the fact that this band tries something
that few native New Orleanians feel comfortable doing - it sifts through local jazz in search of the elemental ingredients, a process rather like subjecting grandma's roux to scientific analysis. . . . Nonetheless, TNORJE has certainly mastered the method of the original artists better than
anyone else in this area, and that alone is reason enough to bring folks from all over uptown to The Maple Leaf, that last dim but cozy haven for the less than opulent."
"It was the kind of presentation that opened up a murky area of American music to reveal its charms and joyful pleasures." - New York Times
"Most gratifying of all was the huge success of their Moscow and Leningrad concerts at the
end of 1982. Despite a total absence of advertising, word of their tour spread like wildfire and
massive crowds greeted the American musicians everywhere they appeared."
- South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)