Jazz was born from a
fusion of French Creole and African-American cultures in New
Orleans, La., sometime around
1895. It combined elements of ragtime, marching band music and the blues. Its
earliest practitioners, including Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson and Clarence Williams,
are little known today, but the improvisational music they invented is still
played and celebrated around the world, in endless ways. Indeed, jazz has taken
many a twist and turn since its early days in the red light district of New
Orleans known as Storyville. But the earliest jazz tunes were lively, happy
songs, great for dancing, and a wailing clarinet was a prominent part of the
sound. No one knows exactly what those first New Orleans jazz bands sounded
like, as the first jazz recordings date
only to 1917 - but we can imagine it from later recordings by some of the early
performers, and hear it echoing in the timeless music of Louis Armstrong, the
most famous New Orleans jazz musician of them all. The Fat Tuesdays Band seeks
to honor the infectious spirit of early jazz and help bring it into the 21st
century. It’s a process, and we’ll always be learning – while having lots of
fun along the way. For more information on the birth of jazz, along with some of the earliest jazz recordings, visit the excellent website redhotjazz.com,
from which much of this brief history is drawn.
had a weekly gig playing jazz guitar at a Roanoke
nightspot when he was still in high school, but his favorite instruments are
the saxophone and the clarinet. When the Fat Tuesdays play, melodies flow from
his old Buffet clarinet like bourbon in the French Quarter on a Saturday night.
Willis also plays with the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble and often performs at
area nursing homes.
Robert Vaughan is one
of Roanoke ’s most sought-after
young drummers. He can be seen performing on stages near and far with the Big
Lick Boptet, the Key West Band and the Ministers of Soul as well as the Fat
Tuesdays Band. He is a fan and a student of classic New
Man" Kelly is a multi-instrumentalist and dance caller who has played in
numerous bands in central and southwest Virginia, including The Jugbusters, The
Don't Tell Darlings, and Welcome to Hoonah.
He brings his tenor banjo to round out the Fat Tuesdays’ classic
Dixieland sound, and also shares upright bass duties with Kevin.
played clarinet and bass guitar in his youth, then put music aside for decades to make a living as a journalist. A few years ago he ventured back
onstage with the blues/ fusion band, Talk is Cheap, and a few months later
became a founding member of the Americana band Welcome to Hoonah. With the Fat Tuesdays he comes full circle,
returning to his first instrument, the clarinet. Kevin also plays upright bass
and sings. He recently joined Scott Perry and Tom Ohmsen in the acoustic blues/rock/jazz group Front Porch Swing as well.
Josh Smelser is a
busy young freelance drummer who plays regularly with some of the Star
City's best musicians. We consider
him part of the band, and he'll step in when Rob can't make it, without missing
Patrick Turner. A
multi-instrumentalist, jazz educator and member of many Southwest
Virginia bands, Patrick contributes occasional bass, banjo and
Trombone ace Dayl
“Dr. Jazz” Burnett has a doctor of music arts degree from the University
of Miami and studied jazz with
Buddy Baker and Dante Luciani. For nearly twenty years he was principal
trombonist of Opera Roanoke and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. He has taught
at Virginia Tech, Radford University
, Roanoke College
, Christopher Newport
University and the College
of William and Mary. Some notable
musicians and personalities that Dayl has performed with include Bruce Hornsby,
Arturo Sandoval, Tony Bennett, David Sanborn, Doc Severinsen, Billy Taylor and
the Moody Blues.
Trombonist Bud Hartkern is a New Jersey native who grew up in the big band era. His earliest influences on the trombone were Tommy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden. During two years of Army service in Germany he was a member of the Army Band as well as a Dixieland combo called "The Riverboat 5." After a break to raise a family, Bud played with numerous big bands in central New Jersey, then moved into traditional jazz and Dixieland. His career highlights include playing with singers Merv Griffin andJerry Vale. Since moving to Virginia in 2004 Bud has played with the the Smith Mountain Lake Brass, the Blue Ridge Trombone Quartet, the Shriner Big Band and the Stardusters Big Band. He is a member of the Blue Ridge Jazz Trio with his vocalist daughter Noreen Hartkern and pianist Al Broholm.