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New Orleans swings through city

Miss Washington Kristen Eddings poses with Two Sisters Fine Jewelry owners Deborah Hughes (left) and Pat Woodbury, wearing the necklace they gave to her.  - Courtesy photo
Miss Washington Kristen Eddings poses with Two Sisters Fine Jewelry owners Deborah Hughes (left) and Pat Woodbury, wearing the necklace they gave to her.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Lloyd Arntzen was born 40 years too late.

The West Coast jazz soprano-saxophone player and singer-songwriter has managed to avoid popular music since he came of age during the swing era in the late 1940s.

“I thought [swing] was great music,” he said, “but I never really thought of music as having an emotional content.”

Twenty years past its time, Arntzen heard New Orleans jazz and he “fell for it like a ton of bricks.

“When I heard New Orleans jazz, it was a much simpler form of polyphonic music and it just struck me. I finally realized that music can express emotion.”

New Orleans jazz came of age at the turn of the 20th century, when music was not a luxury but a necessity.

A difficult genre to define, New Orleans jazz is best described as blues combined with ragtime, featuring trumpet, trombone and clarinet over piano, bass and drums.

It is a style that blends improvised parts permitting greater freedom of expression, spontaneity and fun.

“It’s so simple and so beautiful and so real,” said Arntzen. “Whereas the other music I was interested in at that time was quite sophisticated and very commercial.”

Today, instead of jamming in the bayou, he fulfils his need for the soothing and upbeat melodies of traditional jazz playing with his acclaimed descendants including his sons trumpeter and singer Leif Arntzen and piano player Tom Arntzen.

Family ties aside, the senior Arntzen also plays with the band New Orleans North on tour throughout British Columbia and stopping in Kamloops Monday night.

The band has been together for two years and already released its first album, Born 40 Years Too Late, after Arntzen’s self-penned title track and the theme song for his life.

“We play the masterpieces from the golden age of jazz,” he said, like music from Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Jellyroll Morton and Sydney Bechet.

Their concert program contains up-tempo numbers and soulful blues and nostalgic-type tunes.

“It’s melodic music supported by beautiful harmonies,” he said.

Arntzen will be joined by classic New Orleans jazz band including Bria Skonberg on trumpets and vocals, Grant Simpson on piano and Craig Scott on drums.

New Orleans North will be performing at St. Andrews on the Square, 159 Seymour St., Monday night, 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster by calling 372-9200, or at the door.

For more information, visit www.neworleansnorth.ca.

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