The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3095: Milton Batiste - "The Gentle Giant of New Orleans Jazz"

Personnel: Milton Batiste [trumpet/vocal], Adam Olivier [trumpet], Roelof Brouwer [alto sax], Jasper van Pelt [piano], Wouter Nouwens [banjo], Koos Albers [string bass], Sebastiaan Kaptein [drums]
Songs: Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen, Bogalusa Strut, Blueberry Hill, Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Rock Me, Georgia On My Mind, Weary Blues, St. James Infirmary Blues, On the Sunny Side of the Street, What A Wonderful World, When the Saints Go Marching In, St. Louis Blues

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3095: Milton Batiste - "The Gentle Giant of New Orleans Jazz"

JazzReview.com - Internet Magazine

Milton Batiste (1935-2001) dedicated much of his life to the preservation of New Orleans jazz and brass band music. When Harold "Duke" Dejan revived the 75-year-old Olympia brass band in 1958, Milton Batiste was at his side. The band gained worldwide admiration and spread the gospel of New Orleans music in a dozen countries.
I saw the Olympia in the late1960s when they visited Canada on a Southern States promotional tour. Memories of meeting and chatting with such legends as Milton Batiste, Albert Burbank, Andrew Jefferson, HaroldDejan and the venerable Henry "Booker T" Glass remain etched in my memory. Another imposing character was the band's giant grand marshal, Anderson Minor.
This 1993 session was recorded in the Netherlands and showcases Batiste with /*Kid Adam's La Vida New Orleans Jazz Band*/ Leader / trumpeter Kid Adam Olivier sits out the concert with the exception of the final track,Saint Louis Blues. The "La Vida" band provides convincing and powerful backup for the New Orleans guest star. Milton Batiste is very comfortable with the Dutch septet. The trumpeter's fine singing voice came as "news" to this writer, having heard Batiste only in the brassband format. With the exception of "Saints", traditional hymns are absent on the session. Milton probably played a thousand funerals in hisyears with Olympia and knew all the dirges only too well. He probably needed a vacation from the street music.
Batiste loved R&B too and includes "Blueberry Hill" and "Rock Me" in the first set. Roelof Jan Brouwer blows a hot alto in the Earl Bostic tradition behind the vocals. Brouwer is an exciting and powerful soloist. Personal favorites on this CD include *Bogalusa Strut*, *Mardi Gras In New Orleans* and *St. James Infirmary Blues*. *On The Sunny Side Of The Street* provides a fun vehicle for Batiste's gravely voice and some great solo work by alto sax, piano and trombone. Milton Batiste died in the spring of 2001 and three thousand people danced under an interstate overpass as the funeral limousines passed overhead. He was well loved!
- Richard Bourcier


Boxell's Jazz Website - New Zealand

Kid' Adam has been involved with the renowned, but unfortunately now deceased, Milton Batiste since 1977 when he started booking the Olympia Brass Band for tours in Europe. However, it was not until 1993 that he got the trumpeter to come over on his own to play with Adam's La Vida New Orleans Jazz Band. This recording is from their second gig together on that tour. There were no rehearsals or discussions about what tunes were to be played. Batiste's attitude, apparently, was 'Let's see what happens.' The result is this CD is very 'live'; as such it is very exciting with much spontaneity. Whilst the 'live' bit works well for the performance, it is a drawback in sound quality. I am not sure how many microphones they were using, but I suspect just two, and even that a 'left/right in the same hood, as the stereo effect moves around in a rather disconcerting way at times with little instrument separation. The music is an eclectic mix of street parade, jazz, blues and R&B, with 'Blueberry Hill' and 'Rock Me' very R&B: 'Blueberry Hill' gives Fat's Domino more than a nod and 'Rock Me' comes complete with calling to the audience for responses. Indeed this whole album just rocks and I would imagine even the conservative Calvinistic Dutch were unable to refrain themselves from dancing. Buy this CD and play it and I defy you NOT to dance whilst listening to it! In fact the CD cover should carry the warning: 'Do not play this CD whilst on your own. The prospect of being caught doing a solo skip jive to 'Brake It, Shake It', or solo creep to 'St James Infirmary Blues' is too embarrassing to contemplate.
- Geoff Boxell


Cadence Magazine - U. S. A.

The New Orleans strain is amended by an energetic dose of rhythm and blues and crowd-pleasing vocals. Batiste, who died in 2001, had played with Professor Longhair before joining Harold Dejan's Olympia Brass Band, and this 1993 concert finds him in enthusiastic form, delivering a mini-sermon on "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and a stop-time vocal interlude [on the theme of "Hey! What's the matter now?") in a fast "Bogalusa Strut." His "Blueberry Hill" owes far more to Domino than Armstrong, but is entertaining nonetheless. The other performances will not offer many surprises, but the rough-hewn enthusiasm is contagious. Batiste's trumpet work is assured and frisky, and the backing band, Adam Olivier's La Vida New Orleans Jazz Band, catches the spirit, with altoist Brouwer suggesting Cap'n John Handy's straightforward approach. The La Vida rhythm section is professional, favoring a heavy backbeat, and they never drag. Fans of Batiste will welcome these issues.
- Michael Steinman


Just Jazz - British Magazine

What great pleasure to hear the late Milton Batiste playing well and in such good company. In 1973 first heard this man blowing loud and clear through the streets of the Garden District with the Olympia Brass Band and have been a fan ever since. Born in New Orleans in 1934 (and died 2001) there are good examples of Milton's work available on CD, and his musical background, from school band to work with Jimmy Witherspoon, Professor Longhair, Little Richard, and then so many more years as lead horn in the world famous Olympia, are all documented in the book, 'The Great Olympia Band', by Mick Burns.
Here is Milton in 1993 playing in Holland at a session organized by that devoted enthusiast, Adam Olivier, and his band. The liner notes are interesting - 'No rehearsal, let's just play' - and this comes over on the CD. The first track is a spell-binding, Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen, moving and imaginative, thick with tone and feeling. This is followed by a merciless Bogalusa Strut, not to my liking, and then Blueberry HiU, Mardi Gras with a longhair-influenced intro, and Rock Me, all swingers with great support from all the individual members of the La Vida; they know what they are doing. To hear Milton bring in Georgia on a street parade was, to my mind, always outstanding, and here the band have captured his interpretation well.
Adam (I knew him before he was 'Kid') has always had a deep understanding of New Orleans music and is to be congratulated on getting 'Bat' to record with his band. These European musicians know their stuff and it is not fair to single out individuals. But to be unfair, Emile van Pelt's piano is simply great. Adam plays on 5t. Louis Slues, and this seems to be the only track where the trumpet is under-recorded. Bill Bissonnette (Jazz Crusade) has indicated that he is going to make sure we hear more from Adam 'Kid' Olivier and his La Vida Band.
- Derek J. Winters


Jazz Journal International - British Jazz Magazine

Milton Batiste had visited Europe several times with Harold Dejan's Olympia Brass Band before he made a trip on his own for the tour with the La Vida band which this live recording commemorates. There's plenty of atmosphere but the informal nature of the recording means that Batiste's vocals are better recorded than his or anyone else's instrumental contributions. The Dutch band are highly competent in the later New Orleans style, but Batiste offers a commercial slant on that style which would seem to be aimed at the kind of tourist who visits that city without a discerning knowledge of jazz. He has a fine voice, more reminiscent of Fats Domino than of Louis Armstrong, though the latter seems to have influenced the repertoire.
After five tracks dominated by vocals we reach the purely instrumental Georgia where Batiste demonstrates some rapid runs which seem to be grafted on to a fairly straightforward approach. Then it's back to the vocal dominance on some over-familiar material before Batiste gives way to the band's leader for the final track. I can recommend this to someone who's already an admirer of Batiste's singing.
- Graham Colombe


Jazz Gazette - Internet Publication

When in 1964 Harold Dejan, leader of the Olympia Brass Band of New Orleans, asked Milton Batiste, a thirty years old trumpet player, to join his band, history was made. Batiste had his roots in the flourishing rhythm & blues scene of New Orleans and was a popular musician in the black community. He not only brought along a new audience for the band, but also gradually changed the Olympia from a purely traditional marching band to a more contemporary outfit which eventually stood model for most of the brass bands active in the City today. Without the Olympia, with Batiste as assistant leader, there probably wouldn’t have been a Rebirth, Chosen Few or Dirty Dozen Brass Band. A lot of the musicians active in these brass bands today started their musical career in The Olympia. Read all about it in Mick Burns’ book “The Great Olympia” published by the Jazzology Press.
Batiste’s virtuoso and blues drenched playing wasn’t accepted immediately by the traditional New Orleans fans because they thought his style was too modern. I would rather say that it was different, not modern. I can hear no bebop phrasing in his playing. I remember when I made my first visit to New Orleans that bona fide purist jazz fans warned me not to go to Preservation Hall on Sunday nights because that was Olympia night. I listened to them then, but tried the Olympia out the next year and found it an exciting experience.
Adam Olivier, a Dutch New Orleans style trumpet player, heard Batiste with the Olympia at Preservation Hall in 1974 and was deeply impressed by his playing. It changed his conception of New Orleans music completely and from then on his own playing was heavily influenced by Batiste. He even took over his habit of playing the horn with one hand, beating a tambourine with his other hand. From 1977 on Adam tried to have Batiste come to Holland to play with his own La Vida band. This band has accompanied in its long career a lot of New Orleans stalwarts like Louis Nelson, Sam Lee, Joe “Brother Cornbread” Thomas, Alton Purnell, Kid Sheik, Freddy Kohlman and Herbert Permillion and singers Sylvia “Kuumba” Williams and Ellyna Tatum. Milton’s reply was “Why don’t you just take the whole Olympia Brass Band” and that was exactly what Adam did for the next seven years. This way we had the pleasure of hearing the Olympia in Belgium too a couple of times. The first time the band came to Belgium, they were met at the railway station of Dendermonde by a local brass band. The city had contributed in the costs of bringing the band to the local Honky Tonk Jazz Club on condition that they would play a short open air concert at the Market Place. One unforgettable moment was when Milton played a medley of Battle Hymn Of The Republic/America The Beautiful accompanied by the band playing softly behind him. The clear sound of that powerful trumpet bouncing back on the ancient buildings around the market was spine chilling.
In 1993 Adam Olivier finally succeeded in having Milton as a guest with his band. The present CD was recorded live on that occasion. You can hear Milton say that it was a pleasure to play with the La Vida and I’m sure he meant it. With the exception of a string bass replacing the usual sousaphone, the combination sounds very much like the Sunday evening band at Preservation Hall. When I listen to “Blueberry Hill” I would even say this band would do a nice job backing Fats Domino. Like Adam says in his liner notes, this is New Orleans jazz of the last part of the 20th century, arising from a blend of musical cultures. This mixture includes traditional New Orleans jazz (itself a blend of several musical styles that went on before), blues, rhythm & blues and Mardi Gras music. The track without Milton is not different to the rest of the record, which shows how deeply the La Vida has captured this particular New Orleans sound.
Milton Batiste was an extremely strong trumpet player and I think the recording balance (remember this is a live recording) doesn’t do full justice to his real power. Nevertheless this is a good example of a European band assimilating to a very high degree the sound of contemporary New Orleans music. Every musician in the band is up to the challenge. This recording took place the second time the band played with Milton and there were no rehearsals, not even discussions about the repertory. When they asked Milton what tunes he wanted to play, the answer was “Well, let’s see what happens.” The result was freewheeling hot jazz music with a strong blues flavour, although, strictly speaking, only one slow blues (“Rock Me”) was played. By the way, the strange trumpet sound you hear on that number is – I strongly believe – Milton playing on his mouthpiece only. I heard him do this a couple of times live, many years ago, but I seem to recognise the kazoo-like sound.
Like a lot of New Orleans musicians Milton Batiste loves to sing. His vocals on almost every number – sometimes half-spoken – show the same influences as his trumpet playing. Both are expressions of the exuberant and colourful personality Milton Batiste was. A real son of New Orleans! Adam Olivier and his men are adoptive sons of New Orleans!
- Marcel Joly


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