Monday, June 11, 2007

Jacques Gauthe Remembered

Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Clarinetist Jacques Gauthe passed away while on tour in France. I was told it was of natural causes. I received the call early this morning in Newcastle while on tour with the PHJB in Great Britain. The news came from our dear English friend clarinetest and New Orleans Jazz Enthusiast Brian Carrick.

I grew up knowing Jacques. He moved to New Orleans from France to play music and cook in the best kitchens in the city. He was head chef at the Plimsol Club and later at Galatoire’s Restaurant where he regularly cooked for my dad Allan. Jacques and my dad had a special bond. My father lived to eat and Jacques loved to cook for him. I remember one evening at Preservation Hall the two of them sitting in the courtyard eating a pate Jacques had made. There were crumbs from the French bread they were sharing everywhere. On these frequent occasions, my dad would pull out a vintage bottle of wine from his private stash and he and Jacques would drink and eat with the most incredible enthusiasm.

Jacques’ sound on the clarinet was like him, full of energy and robust. He played with such excitement, I always got the sense that he was always on the verge of bursting into great laughter. On one trip with the PHJB to Omaha, NB, we had a day off. The band was invited to spend the afternoon at a friends house. Jacques and I agreed I would purchase and prep the food and he would cook. It so happened that it was the first day of the asparagus season!! I bought a case of asparagus and dozens of steaks. Jacques and I got to work. He was at home and at great ease in the kitchen. He handled his knife and pans the way an artists mixes paints, with complete confidence. The recipes he showed me that day I use regularly. He created five completely different asparagus dishes and it was, barring the last time he cooked for our family at Galatoire’s, the best steak I’ve ever had.

He suffered and moarned greatly over the loss of his prized home in New Orleans from the flood waters following Katrina. He was an avid stamp collector. His extensive collection was destroyed as well as his instruments and music.

One of the last conversations Jacques and I had was about making salami. Once a year, Jacques would grind his own meat and hang it on a rope he would hang from the front door, down the hallway to his back door. He told me he had to put newspaper down to soak up the oil from the drying meat. He said it was a lengthy and messy endeavour with delicious results. I asked how long it takes. With his typical shrug of the shoulder he replied with his heavy French accent, “When it’s ready. Until then, salami is my wife’s enemy!!!” We burst out laughing.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Story Behind Made in New Orleans

Welcome to our new home page and the MINO (Made in New Orleans) Blog. Below is a window into the inspiration for our upcoming July 24th release called Made in New Orleans. This project was a labor of passion, love, family, and a
celebration of the Crescent City...

Made In New Orleans began years ago. There are so many little things that make New Orleans magical and I wanted to share them with the world. We began recording tracks for this project in 2004. We went so far as to make a video of one of the songs in May of 2005. Little did we know or expect our lives would forever change on August 29th that same year. Band members were and continue to be scattered across the United States from Orlando to Los Angeles. Mind you, we all grew up within a couple two three miles or so of one another. Most of us have never lived anywhere else. Fortunately, all of the members of the band and their immediate family made it safely out of the city. We did mourn the loss of members of our extended musical family, in particular drummer and vocalist John Robichaux who remained in New Orleans with his wife in their family home in the Lower 9th Ward. Their home was overwhelmed by the flood waters. They were unable to make it to higher ground.

We did not complete all of the tracks when New Orleans flooded in 2005. We were not sure if the master tapes survived the rising waters. It wasn’t important to me, since I knew we could always recreate the songs again differently. As our lives began to take new shapes, so did this project. Made In New Orleans suddenly meant something entirely different to all of us. So many things we cherish were gone. We were not only stripped of our homes, but also in jeopardy of losing our precious way of life. I knew it was important to make a project that reflected our New Orleans, our lives, our experiences. Made In New Orleans opens with tracks by Billie and DeDe Pierce. Billie and DeDe were husband and wife and leaders of the first Preservation Hall Band. From there, the record journeys back and forth through the decades–the way New Orleans does. One minute you are driving on the highway, the next you are sitting in a 300 year old slate courtyard surrounded by jasmine vines and banana trees in the French Quarter. A track that has particular importance to me is “Over In The Gloryland”. The song was originally produced by my father, Allan Jaffe, and features Willie and Percy Humphrey. This track was recovered from a tape that I dicovered at Seasaint Recording Studios after the flood waters receded. I found the recording stored on the top shelf in the tape vault, inches above the flood line! Hence the name, The Hurricane Sessions. The song I chose to use, originally recorded in 1976, was never used. Carl Leblanc added vocals in 2006 to create a truly magical rendition of this timeless classic.

New Orleans is a city of joy. We celebrate the bitter and the sweet of life with the resonance of horns and the beating of drums. We play music at our funerals because it connects us to a higher power. We mourn and reflect as the band plays dirges such as “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” while more upbeat songs allow us to rejoice, dance and celebrate the beauty and cycle of life.