Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014

UNO Jazz All-Stars Visit Vista Shores Celebrate Birthday of Harold Battiste

The University of New Orleans Jazz All-Stars student ensemble help renowned jazz musician Harold Battiste celebrate his 83rd birthday

The University of New Orleans Jazz All-Stars student ensemble on Tuesday helped renowned jazz musician Harold Battiste celebrate his 83rd birthday with a musical performance.

The UNO Jazz All-Stars paid a lunchtime visit Tuesday to Vista Shores Assisted Living Community on Bayou St. John to play an hour-long concert for the residents. In the house was acclaimed jazz composer and musician Harold Battiste, who celebrated his 83rd birthday and provided musical inspiration.

Together with renowned jazz pianist and UNO Professor Emeritus Ellis Marsalis, "Mr. Batt" was one of the original faculty to help start and build the University of New Orleans Jazz Studies program. Battiste, a music composer, arranger, performer and teacher, joined the UNO Jazz Studies faculty in 1989.

The jazz musician's internationally-recognized career also included founding the first African-American musician-owned record label, All for One, commonly known as AFO Records. The record label, founded in 1961, produced a million-selling hit single, Barbara George's "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)" within the first few months.
Battiste also produced recordings by Sam Cooke, including "You Send Me," Battiste's first studio arrangement, cut in 1957. Throughout his long and illustrious musical career, he served as a producer and arranger for studio, film, stage and television. Highlights include Joe Jones' "You Talk Too Much," Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya," and Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe." Battiste introduced artist Mac Rebennack as Dr. John and produced his earliest albums.

The New Orleans native spent 30 years in Los Angeles, including 15 years working for musicians Sonny and Cher Show, earning six gold records and serving as musical director for their TV series, The Sonny and Cher Show. Battist also accompanied musician Tom Waits on piano for top hits "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard" and "A Sweet Little Bullet from a Pretty Blue Gun," both of which were recorded on Waits' Blue Valentine album, released in 1978.

Battiste, who attend Dillard University and has lectured at several colleges including UNO, established the AFO Foundation, described as a nonprofit service and educational organization "dedicated to recognizing, perpetuating and documenting the heritage of New Orleans music and the people who make the music."

Battiste has served as a board member of the Congo Square Cultural Collective, the Louisiana State Music Commission, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, Louisiana Jazz Federation, the African Cultural Endowment and numerous other cultural organizations. He has received the Beau Arts Award, the Mayor's Arts Award, the Governor's Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and many others. In 2010 the Historic New Orleans Collection published his autobiography Unfinished Blues.

More than 15 years ago, the City of New Orleans proclaimed his birthday as Harold Battiste Day.

The UNO Jazz All-Stars are a student ensemble who perform throughout the world and can often be seen performing in The Cove. Yesterday's band included UNO students and alumni J.P. Smith on guitar, Robin Sherman on bass, Miles Berry and Ricardo Pascal on saxophone, Russell Ramirez on trombone, Jonathan Bauer on trumpet, Peter Varnado on drums and Danny Barker Professor of Jazz Studies Victor "Red" Atkins III.

 

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