When the Grateful Dead introduced us to the sounds of Jazz

we discovered a whole new sphere of music integrated into the band´s jam style

I am amazed at the mesmerizing Sun Ra Arkestra, their sweet jazzy sounds, cosmic costuming, experiential experimental space jazz, opening this Great Night in Harlem jazz event. It´s an extraordinary show to listen to.

Bobby Weir with David Murray, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Steve Jordan, and the horn section backing him sounds like a Grateful Dead show even though they start with a Cole Porter song “I´ve Got You Under My Skin”, covered and popularized by Frank Sinatra, and Bobby´s singing tonight reminds me of him. Bobby Weir has a great range of emotive vocalizations, the best vocalist of his genre. His band mate in The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia,  was self taught, learning from each other, and listening to other musicians. Jerry did some vocal training in the seventies with Estrella, who studied with Judy Davis, who was Frank Sinatra´s vocal coach. Estrella is on Joni Mitchell´s Ladies Of The Canyon album.

Bobby Weir covers Jerry Garcia´s “Bird Song” here, and the jazzy arrangement of the Grateful Dead´s “West L.A. Fadeaway” and Bobby “Blue” Bland´s “Turn On Your Lovelight” completes the Dead-like jazz flavor sounds for this amazing show.

A Great Night in Harlem

Ft. Bobby Weir w/ David Murray, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Steve Jordan; Chuck D w/ Mix Master Mike; Sun Ra Arkestra directed by Marshall Allen; Charles Tolliver Big Band with Dee Dee Bridgewater ft. George Cables, Billy Harper + Rufus Reid; The Titans of Jazz Drums ft. Al Foster, Billy Hart + Louis Hayes
Live from Apollo Theatre


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Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of  New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. "Since the 1920´s, Jazz has been recognized as a major form of musical expression in traditional and popular music. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, complex chords, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation." Jazz has roots in European harmony and African rhythmic rituals.                  

My first trip to New Orleans is to attend an Education Conference at Tulane University. I was there with Margaret Hart on behalf of our non-profit, "Communication On Alternatives, Inc." Nat Hentoff, the jazz critic and writer for Jazz Review, Downbeat, and The Village Voice, was on our Advisory Board of Trustees, and a big influence and help in our educational journey that started at Bensalem College of Fordham University, and then Goddard College.


Someone at Tulane suggests "Music is the Scene". The New Orleans Jazz Fest is happening that weekend, and we are able to attend. It´s the third Jazz & Heritage Festival, and B.B. King is the headliner, in this first year at the Louisiana Fair Grounds. I also got to see and hear Nina Simone, Jazz Giants Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Kai Winding and many others, and different genres, Bongo Joe, Professor Longhair, James Rivers, Big Joe Williams, Clifton Chenier, Annie Pavageau, Zion Harmonizers, Meyer Bros Bluegrass Boys, Mardi Gras Indians, Marching Brass Bands in Parades, covering Blues, Soul, Creole, Zydeco, Country Cajun, Gospel, a potpouri of African-centric & World Music, and Jazz tributes. It is a gathering of musical healing, cultural arts, historical heritage, and a variety of local food and craft vendors. The annual celebration grew each year in popularity and widespread recognition attracting the greatest jazz, rhythm & blues musicians´participation, including many local musicians, Jelly Roll Morton, Pete Fountain, Wynton & Ellis Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Fats Domino, Trombone Shorty, Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, The Radiators, Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Thousands of other great musicians have played here including Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder,  Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Staple Singers, Duke Ellington, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Sarah Vaughn, Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jimmy Buffet, Patti Labelle, Dave Matthews, Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, Phil Lesh, Charles Lloyd, Mickey Hart & Hydra, Dixie Hummingbirds, Django Festival Allstars, John Handy, and Mavis Staples. So many other great artists, including Allman Brothers, John Mayer, Joni Mitchell, Doug Kershaw, Los Lobos, Howlin´Wolf, Muddy Waters, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, The Band, Fleetwood Mac, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Cole, Bobby Blue Bland, Max Roach, Sarah Vaughan, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Rickie Lee Jones, Ani DiFranco, John Hiatt, Diana Krall, Joan Baez, Little Richard, Maria Muldaur, Vassar Clements, Roy Orbison, James Brown, Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, Herbie Hancock, Al Green, Andrae Crouch, Tina Turner, Jimmy Cliff, Chick Corea, The Meters, Taj Majal, Al Hirt, Tom Petty, Gladys Knight & The Pips, to name a few of the very best, musical talent who participated at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival over the past fifty years.

Some of the greatest jazz musicians who weren´t alive to play here include hometown Bandleader Buddy Bolden, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. Their musical legacy continues in the sounds and hearts of the Jazz Fest.  The legendary Louis Armstrong never played the Jazz Fest but he did play in his hometown of New Orleans at a precursor to the first Festival.

--Uncle John

Dark eyes with a bright note

Dark Eyes - song and lyrics by Django Reinhardt | Spotify

Les Yeux Noirs (Dark Eyes) | Django Reinhardt 

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Joe Patenaude is one of the Premier Lead Guitarists in the Northwest. 

Joe plays a variety of music including Blues, Jazz and Psychedelia

Joe Patenaude released (2022) SNAPFINGER, an album dedicated to original instrumentals, offering a creative landscape of lush guitar compositions, spiced with a few rockin’ blues tunes—Pee Wee records and plays on guitars, bass, piano, organ and several vocal numbers, and it´s mastered by Steve Johnson of Big Blue Studios in Astoria, Oregon. Joe Patenaude musically paints with programmatic themes, musical memories, and using his snap fingers, as he refers to, that have been playing the guitars for over 50 years.

Boomplay ListenFinger Snapping | WFUV here

Music Notes

Artist: Gail Starr

Guitar Maestro Joe Patenaude


Photo by Uncle John

View of San Francisco from inside Alcatraz prison

Joe Patenaude is the disc jockey host on KMUN Coast Community Radio in Astoria, Oregon,  & he chooses all the platters to play. He  brings us another musical history lesson, this one focusing on jailhouse songs, including “Prison Wall Blues” by Sleepy John Estes. Sleepy John was one of the early influences of Bob Dylan’s music especially on “Bring It All Back Home”. Neil Pattman continues the incarceration songs with “Prison Blues” and Brownie McGhee with “Prison Woman Blues”. “Worried Man Blues” is by Big Joe Williams who plays a nine string guitar. The song was also covered by the Carter family, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Johnny Cash & Van Morrison. I’m familiar with the folk group Kingston Trio’s version called “A Worried Man”. Joe celebrates the birthdays today of blues greats, playing several songs by Koko Taylor and Houston Stackhouse. I remember Koko Taylor from the 1960’s. She recorded “Wang Dang Doodle” that was covered by the Grateful Dead. She also recorded “Queen Of The Blues”. When I was staying in Bronzeville in south Chicago in July, I was reading a book of poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks called “A Street In Bronzeville” and one of the poems is “Queen Of The Blues”. It begins,

Mame was singing

At the Midnight Club.

And the place was red

With blues.

She could shake her body

Across the floor.

For what did she have to lose?”

Joe spins some Houston Stackhouse for us, “Pony Blues”, written by Charlie Patton, and “Big Road Blues”. I come to understand the Grateful Dead’s true roots and connections through this song and many of the blues classics.


Brian P & Terrapin Family Band


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