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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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 wouldnt 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
Batistes virtuoso and blues drenched playing wasnt 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. Miltons reply was Why dont
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 Im
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
Milton Batiste was an extremely strong trumpet player and I think the
recording balance (remember this is a live recording) doesnt 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,
lets 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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