On the New Orleans Jazz & heritage Festival of 1972 Wynton and Brandford Marsalis sat in with the brass band.
The band played at the Louisiana Heritage Feat, (which later became Jazz Fest)
The Fairview brass band played at the Jazzfestival of Breda (NL)
Leroy Jones and Gregg Stafford played in the band.
“Just to give you a brief history, the Fairview band was started in my parent’s garage at 1316 St. Denis Street, only about 40 to 50 meters from the Fairview Baptist Church. I was the first youngster Danny Barker approached and asked about being a member of this new band. He also appointed me as leader. This was in 1970. I can’t remember the exact month, but I believe it was towards the end of that year, perhaps October? By 1974 Mr. Barker was getting a lot of heat from the local musicians union in New Orleans, receiving false accusations, being accused of exploiting us for his own monetary gains, since the original group only consisted of juveniles. Of course I can vouch that non of that was ever true. By this time we were able to fend for ourselves anyway. So the Hurricane Brass Band was established. That was my first brass band. Danny gave us that name, because even when we were the Fairview Band, he told us we came up the streets like a hurricane, blowing the other bands away.
I knew all the musicians who came through the Fairview and Hurricane Bands, for we rehearsed at my home, in my parent’s garage. A couple of guys I only remember by their nicknames, like Dusty, the Eb clarinetist, who was a cousin of the Barbarins”. (Leroy Jones: email September 9, 2005)
Barker was asked by Reverend Andrew Darby to help organize a group of “young people,” into a brass band at the Fairview Baptist Church. Jazz historians site Barker’s involvement with this band as his most important contribution to Jazz. Barker proved to be as much a mentor as a music teacher, showing how to dress for a gig, as well as what to play. Greg Boyd wrote in an article from 1971, “Danny [Barker] says that the kids really had an interest in old music and second line music, but didn’t have anyone to take time with them. Danny would like to have them learn about the roots of traditional New Orleans music.” In 1973 The Fairview Baptist Church Christian Band played at the Louisiana Heritage Fest, which later became Jazz Fest, wondering the grounds in Brass Band style. The band reaped praise, “…they were young and spirited and sounded great,” wrote Joan Treadway, in a 1973 issue of the Times-Picayune. In the same article Barker reveals his pleasure in the success of the band. “Some people say that when the old musicians die, that will be the end of Jazz, but I’m proving they’re wrong.”
I asked Bruce Braeburn, respected local drummer and curator for the New Orleans comprehensive Paul Hogan Jazz Archive, if Barker was as important as writers like Brock say, after all the highest praise comes from a man who was once Barker’s agent. If one man had to be singled out for his contribution to the resurgence of brass bands and parading Braeburn told me, it would be Danny Barker. But Don’t forget, Braeburn warned me, the scene wasn’t dead before Barker, there was still plenty of music happening. Brass bands were well established. They just needed someone to reach the next generation ears.
In the late seventies, before Louisiana complied with the Right to work act for unions, union players could not play with non-union players. Barker, who was not really a member of the band, was still a part of the organization. The jazzman often march with the Fairview, who were gigging regularly around the city. Fellow Union members brought Barker before the board. His choice was to halt his role with the Church Band or be fired from the Union, which at the time would have financial suicide. Gathering the kids around, Barker said, “I have some bad news. I have to stop working with you all.” The Fairview Baptist Church Band ended, but not before hundreds of kids got schooled on their roots.By B. Singer
Imagine New Orleans without jazz funerals or Sunday afternoon social aid and pleasure club parades. No lively brass bands leading second lines to celebrate special events. Picture Preservation Hall closing down for a lack of traditional jazz musicians to fill the chairs of those who passed. Under this sad proposition, we might not even have the French Quarter Festival, which kicks off this weekend.
In fact, this is how trumpeters Leroy Jones and Gregg Stafford envision New Orleans today if the late banjoist/guitarist Danny Barker hadn’t established the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band. In 1971, Barker assembled a group of neighborhood kids and introduced them to New Orleans’ traditional music. Jones and Stafford, who are now nationally recognized jazz artists, were members of the youthful ensemble that became an incubator for musicians prepared to perpetuate the city’s musical heritage.
“There probably wouldn’t be a brass band scene like there is today,” speculates Jones, who became Barker’s first recruit into the kids’ band. “That was the rekindling of it within young musicians.”
“I think the music may have died if it wasn’t for Mr. Barker creating the interest in people like myself,” agrees Stafford. “I think about that all the time. Because we were the last linkage to the second generation of (traditional jazz) musicians who were born in the early 1900s.”
When the Fairview’s Reverend Andrew Darby approached Barker about starting up a church band, the veteran musician’s first stop was a nearby house where he remembered hearing the sound of a young trumpeter practicing. He immediately enlisted 13-year-old Leroy Jones in the project, and soon the garage on St. Denis Street was transformed into the band’s weekly practice spot. Jones became the leader of the group that primarily was composed of neighborhood kids. The ensemble also featured the Barbarin brothers — bass drummer Charles and snare drummer, now-trombonist Lucien — who were Barker’s relatives.
Even at its beginnings, it was a sizable ensemble of musicians ranging in age from 11 to 18, most of whom had some musical experience in their school bands. It wasn’t long before the membership swelled to about 30.
Stafford, who at age 17 was already playing trumpet with Uptown groups including the Gibson, Doc Paulin’s and the Reliance brass bands, had already seen the Fairview band roll at a second-line parade. “There was Leroy just blowin’ up a storm,” remembers Stafford. “And I was kind of fascinated to see such a young group of kids.” Soon thereafter, the late trombonist Worthia Thomas introduced Stafford to Barker, who invited the trumpeter to join the band.
At the ensemble’s rehearsals, Stafford remembers Barker spinning records so the kids could learn the tunes. “It wasn’t formal training because Mr. Barker had this notion that he didn’t want to put any music in front of anybody,” says Stafford, explaining that Barker believed it might discourage some youngsters. Jones recalls musicians like saxophonist Earl Turbinton stopping by the practices to offer some pointers, and folks like Preservation Hall founder Alan Jaffe donating instruments.
The Fairview band played its first gig at the 1971 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, then held in Congo Square. By around 1972, future New Orleans jazz veterans like drummer Herlin Riley, clarinetist Joe Torregano and Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen took part in the band’s increasingly numerous engagements. More influential musicians would later join Fairview’s ranks, including trumpeter Gregory Davis, saxophonist Kevin Harris and the Joseph brothers, tuba player Kirk Joseph and trombonist Charles Lucien, who launched the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Besides church events, Barker started booking the Fairview band for the weekly Sunday afternoon second-line parades presented by social aid and pleasure clubs like the Jolly Bunch and the Scene Boosters. It also was the subject of European and Japanese documentaries.
“We were the band, we were as popular as ReBirth and all those bands today, and there were no other young bands like us,” says Jones. “We used to give the Olympia (brass band) hell.”
Surprisingly, the Fairview’s growing popularity became its downfall. The Fairview was increasingly hired for parades that the veteran union musicians once played. According to Jones, Barker started getting flack from the musicians’ union, which accused him of exploiting the kids for monetary gains. “The (union) board told Mr. Barker he had to stop participating (with Fairview) or he was going to be fined,” explains Stafford.
Barker kept his cool until he cut the Fairview band loose in 1974, and helped Jones form the Hurricane Brass Band. Barker later became active, though in a lesser capacity, with a second youthful Fairview group that included clarinetist Michael White, trumpeter Merv Campbell and Edward “Boh” Paris, among others. This ensemble was active for several years before dissolving, marking the end of Fairview’s brief run.
But almost a quarter of a century later, the rich legacy of the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band lives on. The lineup of the French Quarter Festival is filled with Fairview alumni, and the sounds of traditional music. Danny Barker would be proud. i5 By Geraldine Wyckoff
Leroy Jones wrote in his notes of his CD “Back to my roots:
“I was introduces to New Orleans brass band music and traditional jazz by Danny Barker when I was 13 years old. He was helping the pastor (reverend Andrew Darby) of his church, the Fairview Baptist Church, organize a brass band or youth group for youngsters who either played a musical instrument or might be interested in playing one, in the Fairview Band.”
Eddieboh Paris in an interview in Gambit Weekly:
If it hadn’t been for the little shoplifting incident in the summer before eighth grade, Eddieboh Paris wouldn’t be a professional musician.
It was just a 10-cent Hubig Pie — apple — tucked into the waistband of his shorts. But while Paris was walking out of the grocery store, the pie fell — right in front of veteran jazzman Danny Barker, who had recently retired and moved back to New Orleans from New York City.
Barker looked at him and said, “Boy, you’re stealing? I know your mama.” The very thought struck fear in Paris’ heart. His mother, Lois Joseph, worked long days as a registered nurse, says Paris, and came home to “run the house like a boot camp.”
Barker continued, as if nothing had happened. “I have a surprise for you,” he said. “I’ll be at the church tomorrow with Pepsi and all the hot dogs you can eat — with mustard, ketchup, chili, anything you want. But I want something from you.” And so Barker recruited Paris for the now legendary Fairview Baptist Church jazz band.
The hot dogs were a big draw, Paris admits: “Because I’m the fourth of seven kids and when the food was gone, it was gone.” But next to the food was Barker with a bunch of donated band instruments. He told Paris to “put some of that energy to good use” and gave him an E-flat sousaphone. “It was big and ugly, and I hated it,” Paris recalls. “Then I thought, ‘He’s going to tell my mama I stole that pie.'” So Paris stuck with it and eventually learned to play the double B-flat sousaphone, the baritone horn, slide trumpet, and — his love — the trombone.i1
The Fairview Band performed at church events, Social & Pleasure Club events, Funerals, and Second Line Parades all over the city of New Orleans. The band has performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institute Festival of Culture & Folklore. The Fairview band later evolved into the Hurricane Brass Band, which became the seed of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.i2
In 1965 Danny Barker moved back to New Orleans from New York City and formed a children’s group led by Leroy Jones known as the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band. This group began to attract attention and before long Harold (Dejan) felt their competition. As a result, Dejan complained to Musicians Union officials about these underage kids taking their jobs and not being Union members. Danny then encouraged Leroy to join the Union and Leroy formed the Hurricane Brass Band. When Leroy decided to pursue a solo career, the Hurricane Brass Band became the Tornado Brass Band, which in turn spawned ReBirth, Dirty Dozen, Soul Rebels and New Birth Brass Bands. As the brass band revival of the ’70s and ’80s exploded, Harold began to nurture and encourage many of the younger players.i3
Leroy Jones reassembles the Fairview Brass Band for a special concert
at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2009 i4
9 Keeping the beat on the street by Mick Burns
i1 http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2003-08-26/ae_feat.html or see here