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The Life and Music of New Orleans Legend George Lewis


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Dr. Michael White and his Original Liberty Jazz Band will explore the music and legacy of jazz great George Lewis at The Historic New Orleans Collection’s annual Bill Russell Lecture on Wednesday, April 11, at the institution’s Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

White, the Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University and a noted clarinetist and composer, will discuss the importance of Lewis, a traditional-jazz revival clarinetist, while the Original Liberty Jazz Band will perform songs from the jazz great’s repertoire.

Among the most influential and widely imitated of all traditional jazz musicians, Lewis (1900–1968) began performing in the early 1920s with Buddy Petit, Henry “Red” Allen, the Eureka Brass Band, the Olympia Orchestra and his own ensemble. In 1942, he made a series of recordings with trumpeter Bunk Johnson that helped launch a revival of interest in traditional New Orleans jazz and garnered Lewis worldwide recognition. Numerous international tours and recordings followed, and he quickly became a central figure of the traditional-jazz revival, playing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from 1961 until his death. Lewis’s style was marked by rhythmic arpeggios, scale fragments and inventive melodic phrases—all driven by his rich “singing” tone and genuine deep expression.

Each year, THNOC’s Bill Russell Lecture explores traditional jazz, and the 2018 program is sponsored by the Derbes Family Foundation.

Reservations are required and may be made by calling (504) 523-4662. Admission is $25; $15 for THNOC members; and free for Caillot Circle, Jackson Society, Laussat Society, and Bienville Circle members. Seating is limited. Reservations will be held until five minutes prior to the start of the program. At that time, any unclaimed seats will be released to the public.