Our very first singer, Wayne Harvey now performs in the Media area as a solo singer songwriter and with area bands. Wayne performed with us in 96' and '97. Our second singer Laura Woods still performs with us occasionally and has become the mother of two lads! Laura was with us from '97 through '02 and has recorded with us on several occasions. Our very accomplished and much missed Tubist, Shane Petit, now plays Tuba and repairs musical instruments for the U.S. Army. He may still sit in once in a while. Over the years as our musician's careers have taken off, we have been more and sometimes less active performing and have now weathered two significant hiatii. We are all very excited to be playing out once again and bringing our special brand of New Orleans flavored Jazz, R and B and original composition.
As the creative director and main arranger/composer, there are a few things I try to keep in mind when selecting repertoire and composing new materiel for the group. An over all 'sound' which includes that delicious organic wind instrument timbre is certainly our aural calling card. Also, more complex and sophisticated Jazz harmonies tend to predominate. Each wind player brings a unique and special musical personality to the gumbo of sound. With this in mind, I do try to emulate one of my idols and perhaps the 'Zeus' in the pantheon of American Musical Geniuses, Duke Ellington. Among his many, many brilliant innovations, writing for the individual players in his bands was a hallmark. I try to do the same. Certainly the musicians can play anything put in front of them but there are particular musical identities which have emerged over the years and I try to keep these in mind and positively exploit them whenever possible.
Additionally, the discovery in 1996 of our drummer Darren has been an incredible boon to our sound. It is not as if the music is written presuming complete individual control of limbs but since this is Darren's superhero power, we use it! (but only for good). The fluid nature of the rhythm section's interaction in general is one of the great strengths and joys of this ensemble. There is much Jazz sensibility in our group as nearly all of us come from that school of thought and sound. There are plenty of opportunities for improvisation as well as through composed areas and pieces.
Our influences are many but in particular, the New Orleans street bands, Duke Ellington, the John Kirby Sextet and the Raymond Scott Quintette, the writing of Darius Milhaud and Ferde Grofe as well as arrangers such as Fletcher and Horace Henderson, Jelly Roll Morton, Don Redman and Bill O. Smith. The work of Mary Lou Williams and Brick Fleagle also inspire us.
Ensembles we love to listen to for inspiration include the Duke Ellington Orchestras (particularly the small group sessions from '37-'39), The Kirby and Scott small groups from the late '30's and early 40's as well as Dave Brubek's '46 Octet and Miles' '49 Nonet. Certainly the mighty Dirty Dozen Brass band as well as Jesus Almany's Cubanissimo, the Industrial Jazz Group and New Orleans guitarist and all around musician Roy Montrell. The work of James Spaulding, Don Sickler, Poncho Sanchez, Steely Dan, Tom Waits, a host of early R and B and Jump Blues artists and the band Cake also give us a boost. Over the years the horn section from the HJO has appeared live and on recordings with area groups such as:
Let's Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later on Tonight 1998
Kids In Philly 2000
20,000 Streets Under the Sky 2004.
Looks Like Up 2001
Sharon Katz and Peace Train:
Imbizo 2002 (this record also features Darren).
Performances of note include the Theatre of Living Arts, the Tin Angel, the Five Spot, the Grape Street Pub, the Black Banana, the Khyber Pass, Fergie's Pub, Doc Watson's Pub, Taxi, Eden Roc, the Art Bar, the Medford Jazz Festival, the Philadelphia Clef Club, the Yardley Country Club, Louis I. Kahn Park, Gorgas Park, Gold Star Park, Cianfrani Park and Mario Lanza Park.