Jazz by the Boulevard

Jazz by the Boulevard
Sep. 16-18, 2005 – Ft. Worth Texas
by Gene Thompson

The 3rd Annual “Jazz By The Boulevard” took place September 16-18, 2005 on the lawn of the Will Rogers Memorial Complex, located in beautiful Forth Worth Texas. The event featured all types of Jazz music and cultural performances on two stages including Classic, New Orleans, Latin, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Big Bar Orchestra and Gospel: Headliners included Joe Sample, Eddie Palmier, Regina Carter, Lavay Smith & The Red Hot Skillet Lickers along with local favorite “Faces The Band.”

On Friday evening, Jazzusa had the pleasure of hanging out with ” The Lao Tizer Band” a high-energy Jazz band from Los Angeles. The group has performed for about 2 1/2 years and after Friday night’s gig; they were headed off to San Antonio, for a Saturday night performance. The band consists of Christopher (Bass) Andy (Saxophone) Drew (Drummer) and Lao Tizer (Keyboards).

The crowd waited late that Friday evening to assemble on the lawn, many were avoiding the Texas heat, however rain earlier in the day made for a very nice cool evening.

By 8pm, the lawn was full of folks waiting to hear the sounds of Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

Internationally recognized as The Queen of classic Jazz & Blues in the authentic style of the 1940’s and 1950’s, Lavay Smith is the Real Deal! Lavay Smith performed several tunes including ” I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl” an old Betsy Smith hit, as a dedication to the City of New Orleans, she ended her set with “When the Saints go Marching On. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Lavay and the band; these guys are real down to earth musicians who love what they do.

It’s about 9:30 in the evening, the crowd relaxed after kicking it earlier with Lao Tizer, being mesmerized by Lavay Smith and that Skillet Licking Band of hers, and now it was time for the headliner of the evening… Mr. Joe Sample and his trio .

As I walked backstage to get some oer’ dourves I looked across and saw a gentleman sitting down, actually it looked like he was taking a cat nap. When I slowly walked over to introduce myself he stood up and kindly said “Hi, I’m Joe Sample, nice to meet you.” Well, this was a huge surprise… I certainly didn’t expect to stumble upon a legend the way I did.

The Joe Sample Trio took the stage at 9:45 to the pleasure of the late night crowd of 5000 jazz fans. I made one request for Mr. Sample before he took the stage, I kindly asked that he play ” Hippies On The Corner”, he replied ” I think I can do that one for you… and that he did… The Joe Sample Trio captured every Jazz fan in the park with their unique sound, at times it sounded like there were more than 3 musicians playing.

Joe Sample gave the audience some brief history behind most of the tunes played that night, especially the story behind “Hippies On A Corner”. In the early 60‘s, Sample was a young jazzman wearing a stylish blue suit. He was approached by some hippies on a corner in San Francisco ,they mistook him for a white-collar establishment dude. Joe Sample was shocked that they didn’t discriminate against him because of his color, they didn’t like that fact that he was nicely dressed. This encounter inspired the song, “Hippies on a Corner”.

I had an opportunity to speak with Jay Anderson, Sample’s stand up bass player, he said that’s exactly how the story took place. Anderson is the bass player from the original recording.