Nov 16, 2012
Fifteen years ago, Marc Samuels decided to add a part-time job running a record label to his already busy life. Since that date, his Basin Street Records has signed a dozen artists and has released nearly 50 projects including 2012 Grammy winner Rebirth of New Orleans by the Rebirth Brass Band.
To celebrate their anniversary, Basin Street Records artists will be performing all across the world this month, from Jason Marsalis w/ Marcus Roberts at the London Jazz Festival Nov 17 to Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band at Xavier University in New Orleans Nov 27. Rebirth Brass Band will be opening 8 shows for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Nov 14-26) and Theresa Andersson will be appearing at Byronz in Shreveport, LA on Thursdays all month. Irvin Mayfield's NOJO Jam at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse in New Orleans will take place on Wednesdays in November.
I spoke with Samuels about how the label began, the joys and frustrations of working in the music business, what HBO’s Treme has meant to New Orleans music, and what the label has planned for the future. Click here to listen to our conversation, including musical selections from Basin Street Records artists like:
Kermit Ruffins – “I Got a Treme Woman“ from Happy Talk. Kermit and his band the Barbecue Swingers signed the first Basin Street Records' recording contract, the first of which was recorded on November 14, 1997 in front of a packed house at Tipitina's. That recording was later named The Barbecue Swingers Live and was released in February 1998. Since then, Kermit has continued to record for Basin Street on a regular basis, and included this original on his 2010 release. If you find yourself in NOLA, you can almost always catch Kermit and his band Tuesdays at Bullet’s Sports Bar and Thursdays at Vaughan's Lounge!
Los Hombres Calientes – “El Barrio” from Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 1. Cyrille Neville guests on this track from the top Latin Jazz album that helped catapult Basin Street Records to national prominence in 1998. The band included Jason Marsalis on drums for this recording, and was led by legendary percussionist Bill Summers (Headhunters), trumpeter Irin Mayfield, bassist David Pulphus and pianist Victor Atkins III.
Henry Butler – “North American Idiosyncrasies” from PiaNOLA Live. Called “the pride of New Orleans" by no less an authority than Dr. John, Butler is the latest in the Crescent City's lineage of piano players going back from Professor Longhair to James Booker; Tuts Washington to Jelly Roll Morton. This tune was composed by clarinetist/educator Alvin Batiste, with whom Butler studied at Southern University. It was Batiste who arranged, somewhere in the mid-1970s, for Butler to sit down for with ‘Fess himself.
Dr. Michael White - “I Love You Too Much To Ever Leave You” from Adventures In New Orleans Jazz, Part 2. Perhaps the most important source of traditional New Orleans music still performing and teaching, Dr. White has received the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Award; and the Louisiana Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. He also won the Offbeat Magazine Best of the Beat Award as Clarinetist of the Year, and Gambit Magazine’s Big Easy Entertainment Award for Traditional Jazz Artist of the Year.
Rebirth Brass Band – “Do It Again” from Rebirth in New Orleans. Basin Street records’ first Grammy winning release (Best Regional Roots Music Album) featured this raucous collection of brass players, currently on tour opening for alt-rock gods the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Formed by the Frazier brothers, Phil and Keith, along with Basin Street labelmate Kermit Ruffins in 1983, the Rebirth Brass band has gone from playing on corners in the French Quarter to selling out concert halls across the world and appearing in David Simon’s HBO hit
Irvin Mayfield – “Ninth Ward Blues” from Tremé. Irvin Mayfield. Mayfield has been serving as Cultural Ambassador of the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana since 2003, just around the time he founded and became Artistic Director of The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO). This track, from his debut CD in 1998, features a crew of New Orleans heavies, including David Pulphus on bass, Delfeayo Marsalis on trombone and Donald Harrison on sax.