Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tony Fougerat at the 'Maple Leaf Bar'

I would guess that New Orleans trumpeter Tony Fougerat (1900-1979) didn't think of himself as a jazz musician, but just as a musician. Although he toured on the vaudeville circuit and recorded (probably) with Jimmie Rodgers, he was little known outside of his home city. His primary gigs in New Orleans were in the small neighborhood dance halls, like Munster's in the Irish Channel. He was playing dance music, but for his audience the preferred style of dance music included a healthy dose of relaxed New Orleans jazz.

Fougerat's band here includes two longtime associates, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Geary and trombonist Joe "Red" Margiotta. Margiotta had lost his right arm just above the elbow, so he strapped his trombone to his stump in order to play, using his left hand to move the slide. Fougerat's rhythm section consists of three then-young Brits, pianist Maggie Kinson, Bob Culverhouse on bass, and drummer Andrew Hall, who has enjoyed a long career playing New Orleans music.

Although this session was later reissued on a G.H.B. LP, it doesn't seem to be available at all in digital form. The music is gentle, but swinging, with plenty of emphasis on melody. This was the last gasp of this style of New Orleans dance music, and I'm glad that Lar Edergran took Fougerat's band into the Maple Leaf to record this album for Rampart Records that spring day in 1974.

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