Good Music For You
Good Music For You is the monthly digital track-drop from the Panorama Jazz Band and the Panorama Brass Band of New Orleans, LA.
The sounds come from anywhere people like to play, dance and celebrate: especially New Orleans, the Caribbean, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
You, a music industry tastemaker, can listen to and download all of our new singles here. Email Ben if you’d prefer a .WAV file and to discuss a deal.
You can also hear and license tracks through our Audiosocket page. Check it out!
Released February 1st, 2018
It’s that time of year again folks, Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Every Fat Tuesday for the past 20-sumpn years, the Panorama Brass Band has escorted a local walking club called The St. Anthony Ramblers around the Faubourg Marigny and the French Quarter. It all began in 1997 or so with about 20 close friends and us; now it’s grown to at least 10 times that number – a rambling tribe of mystical misfits revelling in the streets seeking sensory gratification, satire and universal truth.
This year, for our annual Carnival release, we give you a little tune we always play as we step off on that beautiful morning, Oh, Didn’t He Ramble. Herein you’ll find the spirit of Mardi Gras, in all it’s inebriated glory, captured the next day, Ash Wednesday, 2013 (see also Norma la de Guadalajara, Geljan Dade, Purim in the Quarter, Bagopolier Freylekh and Boki 13). The band, tired but tight after a demanding parade schedule, knocked this one out in one take.
Oh, Didn’t He Ramble, an Irish comic song, was written and published in 1902 by the same brothers, J Rosamond and James Weldon Johnson, who gave us Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing, commonly considered the African-American National Anthem. Not only were these men performers on the Minstrel circuit, they were also social activists (JW was executive director of the NAACP from 1920 to 1930) and Harlem Renaissance intellectuals.
Oh, Didn’t He Ramble is among the most commonly performed songs in the entire canon of New Orleans Jazz. It is especially associated with the tradition of the Jazz Funeral, a happy tune played on the way home from the cemetery. The English word “Ramble” comes from the Middle Dutch, “Rammelen” which means to walk about aimlessly, often used to describe farm animals looking for a drink in the heat of the day.
Mardi Gras day is February 13th this year and if you can make it to New Orleans, come find us. Round about 9:30 that morning, after the blessing of the Red Beans and performance of the sacred St Anthony Chorale, someone will shout “Are you ready to RAMBLE?” and we’ll be off.
Special thanks to trombonist and Jazz Historian David Sager who helped shed light on the history of Oh, Didn’t He Ramble. Also huge gratitude to Ramblin’ Don Keller for the cover photo that captures the spirit of Panorama Brass with the St Anthony Ramblers on Mardi Gras Day (which is a thing).
Super special thanks to Mark Bingham for wonderful food and beautiful vibes during the recording session.
Download Oh, Didn’t He Ramble! (mp3)
Released January 1st, 2018
Lionel Belasco (1881-1967) was born in Trinidad to a Creole mother and Sephardic Jewish father. Growing up as a piano player he was more an observer than a participant in Trinidad’s Calypso scene but he began writing music, leading bands for parties and, as he traveled and lived throughout Latin America, he absorbed influences from many different cultures into his compositions. Belasco eventually landed in Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s where he made a name for himself as a Calypsonian, writing, playing and recording for New York’s burgeoning West Indian population.
“Las Palmas de Panama” is actually a medley of two separate Belasco compositions, “Las Palmas de Maracaïbo,” a Venezuelan waltz, and “Panama Paseo no. 1,” originally written on the completion of the Panama Canal. In order to segue between the different time signatures, we worked out a way to use the cross-rhythm of the waltz to set up the two-beat of the Paseo.
This is our third recording of music from Lionel Belasco (see also “Carmencita” and Esperanzas“). In contrast to its Viennese cousin, a Venezuelan waltz is an earthier, more polyrhythmic dance. The term “Paseo” (“walk” in Spanish) refers to a section of the dance where couples promenade onto the floor.
Download Las Palmas de Panama (mp3)
Released December 1st, 2017
This month, for the first time, Panorama is releasing two songs in the same month. Call it “Holiday Lagniappe.”
“Ocho Kandelikas” is our Hanukkah track while “I Wonder As I Wander,” celebrates Christmas. Give them both a listen, talk us up to your friends and let me know how the music feels in your house.
“Ocho Kandelikas” (“Eight Little Candles”) is sung in Ladino, the Jewish language of medieval Spain which is still spoken in Sephardic communities around the Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa. The lyrics tell that “beautiful Hanukkah is here.” There will be a lot of parties with joy and happiness and we’ll eat little almond and honey pastries. After the horns set up the groove and accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman lays down the red carpet, New Orleans chanteuse Meryl Zimmerman delivers the verse, refrain and second verse. Michael then returns to play a verse before alto saxophonist Tomas Majcherski rips a solo over a riff pattern from the clarinet and trombone.
Download Ocho Kandelikas (mp3)
“I Wonder As I Wander” was written by folklorist and composer John Jacob Niles (April 28, 1892 – March 1, 1980) who roamed Appalachia in the Summer of 1933 collecting folk ballads. As the story goes, he was in Murphy, North Carolina, attending an open-air church fund-raiser when he heard a girl singing.
Niles learned just a fragment of melody from the young woman and from it composed the song that you hear today. It is a haunting tune in a minor key that has it’s life within the central mystery of Christianity – that the king of the Universe would sacrifice his only child on behalf of “poor or’n’ry sinners like you and like I.” Each stanza ends on a major four chord which leaves the question unresolved, open-ended.
Download I Wonder As I Wander (mp3)
Released November 1st, 2017
Many years ago, before Panorama clarinetist Ben Schenck started the band, he played with an outfit called the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars. The tenor saxophonist then (and now) was a young Californian named Ben Ellman who came to New Orleans to seek his fortune in 1989. He started playing gigs with the NOKAS, knocked around with a freaky, go-for-it project called Lump, played second-line parades with the Little Rascals Brass Band and eventually hooked in with a local bar band named Galactic Prophylactic. He still plays occasionally with the klezmers, tours internationally with that post-Meters funk institution now known as Galactic and has also made a name for himself as a successful record producer with the likes of Trombone Shorty and The Revivalists, with whom he’s recently scored a gold record. Fortune found!
Ellman recently made time in his busy schedule to record a number with Panorama that he and Schenck used to play back in the day called the “Bubbe Tantz” (Yiddish for “Grandmother Dance”). The present version begins with Mr Schenck calling the band to order, answered by accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman. Then Mr Ellman delivers the main theme, popping his bell-tone and painting a portrait of a no-nonsense-yet-doting old Granny dancing at her grandchild’s wedding.
Download Bubbe Tantz (“Granny Dance”) (mp3)
We dedicate the “Bubbe Tantz” to the memory of Elaine Hoffman Watts who passed away on September 25th at the age of 85. She was a drummer deeply rooted in her family tradition of Yiddish music going all the way back to the Ukraine many generations ago. She was also a cultural grandmother to many of us working in the klezmer world. She and her daughter, trumpeter Susan Hoffman Lankin-Watts, were both exceptionally kind to Panorama when we played in Philadelphia last year. They loaned us a drum set and gave us sage advice on playing klezmer music. They said, “Just play it pretty.”
Released October 1st, 2017
Antoine Reynaldo Diel was born into a musical family in Manila, Philippines and grew up singing in church and at community events. He had made the move to New Orleans in 2013 to get involved in the local music scene when Panorama clarinetist Ben Schenck heard him at the Spotted Cat with his band The Misfit Power. They struck up a friendship and Ben, enchanted with Antoine’s tone eventually brought up the idea of a collaboration. Antoine suggested they record “Dahil Sa Iyo” (“Because of You”) and Ben began studying the song, imagining a Panorama take on it and organizing a session.
“Dahil Sa Iyo” had its original premier in the 1938 Filipino movie “Bituing Marikit” (“Marvelous Stars”) and represents a traditional form of Filipino serenade called Kundiman. It crossed over to the US largely due to the English lyric by Tom Spinosa and has been recorded by Nat King Cole among others.
Antoine first sings it in the original Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines) then delivers an English version. He suggested we set it in the tempo of a Cuban bolero (with Doug Garrison overdubbing bongos) while Ben envisioned the sound of a National Steel guitar (played by Georgi Petrov) to evoke a bit of a South Pacific tone. This track also marks the only time since our first album in 2003 (Another Hot Night In February) where we’ve recorded using string bass (here played by Martin Masakowski ) instead of tuba.
Download Dahil Sa Iyo (“Because of You”) (mp3)
Released September 1st, 2017
We were hired to play a wedding a few years ago and the couple had one request. For their first dance they wanted a waltz originally recorded by the great “yodeling brakeman,” the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933). Miss The Mississippi And You is a sentimental ballad in which the singer, exiled to the big city, longs for his home and his sweetheart back on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Jimmie Rodgers was born near Meridian, MS, his father a foreman on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Working as a water boy and later a brakeman on the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, he learned to sing and play guitar from the other workers and hoboes he lived and worked among. After contracting tuberculosis, he was forced to give up the railroad life and eventually set out as an entertainer. His big break came in July 1927 when he auditioned for the Victor Talking Machine Co. in Bristol, TN and was recruited to record in Camden, NJ the next month. In his following session for Victor, Rodgers recorded a song, written with his sister-in-law Elsie McWilliams, called Blue Yodel (aka “T For Texas”). This record sold half a million copies, launched his career and made Jimmie Rodgers a household name.
Our version features a vocal by Panorama front-man Ben Schenck (with additional lyrics written by Ben) plus, for the first time, resonator tenor guitar with dobro overdubs by Georgi Petrov and string bass by Martin Masakowski (instead of our usual banjo and tuba).
Download Miss the Mississipppi and You (mp3)
Released August 1st, 2017
Ed Frank (1932-1997) was a New Orleans pianist who cut his teeth in the teeming R+B scene here in the 1950s. He played at the fabled Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street and, as an anchor of the house band, contributed both performances and arrangements to hundreds of sessions produced by Dave Bartholomew and others at Cosimo Matassa’s J+M Studios on Rampart Street.
Over the course of his career spanning five decades, Mr Frank worked with a long list of notable musicians including Tommy Ridgely, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Junior Parker, Chuck Carbo, Dr John, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Snooks Eaglin among others. He also sat in frequently on Kermit Ruffin’s Monday Night Jam Session at Little People’s Place in the Treme neighborhood where Panorama clarinetist Ben Schenck got to know him.
Fruit Punch is one of Frank’s compositions that Ben learned sitting in on Kermit’s gig back in the early 90s. The entire B section hangs on a V7#9 chord, not resolving to the I until returning to the top of the form. This creates such a feeling of suspension that Kermit’s guitar player at the time, Jonathan Freilich, remarked, “you could eat a sandwich on the 5!”
But here’s an example of Mr Frank’s irrepressible spirit and creativity. When he was in his mid 20s, he suffered a stroke that left his left arm and hand partially paralyzed. He played everything, bass, chords and melody all with his right hand. Even so he was, right up to his death, one of the most sought after pianists in New Orleans.
Download Fruit Punch (mp3)
Released July 1st, 2017
Available with and without vocal track
1968 was a difficult year. Dr King and Sen Kennedy were assassinated in April and June. The My Lai massacre and Tet offensive made clear that the war in Viet Nam was only getting deeper and more bogged down. And the Flower Power consciousness of ’67 was beginning to wilt.
But what do musicians do in hard times? We bring something positive. Performed by Archie Bell and the Drells of Houston Texas, “The Tighten Up” dropped in April of that year, sold a million copies in May and reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Rhythm and Blues charts that Summer. With it’s sunny major 7th chords and spunky groove it helped people stay optimistic and survive a grim period in our nation’s history. If you are feeling stressed lately, we hope our version can be of some relief to you as well.
Download The Tighten Up (mp3)
Download The Tighten Up (No VOCAL) (mp3)
Released June 1st, 2017
Available with and without vocal track
We had a gig recently (a funeral, oddly enough) where a bunch of young children with their parents were clustered around the band. We started wondering what we could play that the kids might enjoy and figured “Old MacDonald” would be pretty straightforward. Then our banjo player, Patrick Mackey said, “let’s make it ‘Old MacDonald had a band!'” Well, it was a hit and we’ve played it at gigs several times since then. We know some of you have young ones who will be out of school soon so we whipped it out during our recording session a couple weeks ago. Add it to the Summer playlist!
Download Old MacDonald Had A Band (mp3)
Download Old MacDonald Had A Band (No Vocal) (mp3)
Released May 1st, 2017
“I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday” is a number written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew and recorded by everybody from Bobby Mitchell and the Toppers (1957) to Paul McCartney (30 years later). Our version (30 years after Sir Paul’s), however, is patterned after Domino’s own 1959 reading on Imperial Records that made it to #1 on the US R+B chart.
Steve kicks off the party with a big tuba “whoop” leading into a gang shout that recalls a New Orleans second- line. Ben then delivers the tune, akin to a children’s street rhyme, as a self-confident hot-shot bragging that he’ll soon be too good for his old friends. The vocal chorus is followed by inspired blows by Charlie on trombone and Tomas on alto saxophone, propelled by the rhythm section, Steve driving the bass counterpoint, with Ben giving verbal encouragement.
One thing you can say about Fats Domino, a musician who has influenced everybody in pop music right on up to the Beatles and the rest. He has never forgotten where he came from. We played a wedding back in March and afterwards one of the banquet waiters came over to us and said, “y’all played one of my favorite songs” (referring to “Wheel”). Turns out Fats Domino is his uncle. When asked after Mr Domino’s well- being, he told us that Fats, now 89 years-old, has moved out of his old house in the Lower 9th Ward, lives with his daughter out in Harvey and loves nothing more than to stay home and boil fresh seafood in the back yard with his friends, family and neighbors.
As for us, our big break is right around the corner and when it hits, you can find us by the pool in Beverly Hills.
Download I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday (mp3)
Released April 1st, 2017
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary his death, and in conjunction with the Second Annual New Orleans Ragtime Festival (produced by Panorama banjoist Patrick Mackey and opening today), we offer a Scott Joplin waltz titled “Pleasant Moments.”
It was on this date 100 years ago that Joplin, the great American composer, died in New York. He was buried in a pauper’s grave in East Elmhurst Queens which remained unmarked until 1974 when his music enjoyed a popular revival. Joplin was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976.
Although better known for such rags as “The Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer,” Joplin’s catalogue includes compositions in a variety of styles and genres including a ballet and two operas. This waltz, originally published in 1909, comes from the days before recorded sound, when many homes included a piano and sheet music was the primary medium by which popular songs were circulated.
Panorama clarinetist and bandleader Ben Schenck asked Patrick to select a Joplin piece for him to arrange. Patrick recommended “Pleasant Moments” and then, working from the piano score, Ben made an arrangement for the band and the recording session was held just last Tuesday. The musicians learned the chart then played it down several times until everybody really dug the music within the notes on the page. And from that session, we have yet another lovely, interesting and wholly different-type track for you to add to your Panoramaland collection.
Thanks for listening.
Download Pleasant Moments (mp3)
Released March 1st, 2017
Friends, Panorama appears to have survived another Mardi Gras in New Orleans (although it’s still too soon to say for sure). It was a fun, raucous 17 day ramble, ecstatic at times, stressful at times, through a physically and psychically demanding parade and gig schedule. Now it’s over and today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of a welcome period of purification, introspection and quiet being. What better way to welcome in the Lenten season, sacred in the Catholic tradition, than with a lovely Hassidic melody?
“Joshua Yaakov,” from the pen of Hassidic clarinetist Andy Statman, is a tune which, according to Panorama bass man Mark Rubin, sings of “an intense yearning for spiritual union with the creator.” Mark, who plays a sweet F helicon on this track, has also worked extensively with Mr. Statman and tells that “we can never, in this life, reach that moment of communion with the divine so we find ourselves continually climbing, striving, and then receding.” Mark explained all of this to the rest of us before rolling tape and we tried to play the music in that spirit.
Download Joshua Yaakov (mp3)
Released February 1st, 2017
For our third annual Mardi Gras drop, we bring you a favorite of the Panorama Brass Band that, when the low brass and drums strike up the intro vamp, always sets the crowd to rocking.
“Boki 13”, brought in by tenor horn man Don Godwin, is another from the legendary Ash Wednesday 2013 session at Piety Street Studios where the band, tired but tight after a hectic Carnival parade schedule, threw this one down in one take. It features a reggae-style back beat with quasi-hip hop swung 16th notes, some Q and A between the lead horns and a smoking trombone solo followed by a drum break.
The title refers to a sensational Macedonian drag queen and entertainment personality, Boki 13. We admire him (his choice of pronoun) for his determination to be fully himself at all times no matter what the political climate and claim the same for ourselves and all people. This one in particular goes out as a celebration of non-conformists everywhere and anybody, whether considered “normal” or something else, who has ever had to take a stand for who they are.
Download Boki 13 (mp3)
Released January 1st, 2017
Recorded in a hastily arranged session on Wednesday, December 28, this has been our quickest turnaround yet. Once it became suddenly clear that our song-of-the-month club Good Music For You would indeed begin breaking even in 2016, we knew we had to get something together by January 1st. And for this one we’ve pulled out all the stops.
“Ba Moin En Ti Bo Doudou” (“Give Me A Little Kiss Sweetie”) is another of our Creole beguines that we play at damn near every gig. This party includes a run down of the melody, a quick version of “Happy Birthday” (which has the same chord changes), a trombone solo, an alternate version of the melody played by two clarinets plus a 36 bar percussion throwdown before the clarinets recap the head (up a whole step) and take it out.
Download Ba Moin En Ti Bo Doudou (mp3)
Released December 1st, 2016
Do you love Christmas but need some new music for your playlist? Here is a traditional English wassail song you may not have heard.
The word “wassail” goes back to medieval times in England and means “to your health.” Revelers there still go house to house singing and toasting the residents who are expected to provide mulled wine or cider to add to the frivolity.
Our Yuletide offering this year features New Orleans vocalist Jane Harvey Brown. Folks here are no strangers to a drunken ramble and Jane’s sassy, brassy tone never fails to start a party.
“Joy be to you and a jolly wassail!”
Download Wassail Wassail (mp3)
Released November 1st, 2016
For the past two years in November, even though it was still several weeks early, we released a Hanukkah themed tune. In both cases, the music was comprised of traditional Jewish instrumental melodies for which we fashioned new titles to repackage them as holiday songs. Call it show biz or maybe “The Folk Process.”
Your Panorama track for November, “Bagopolier Freylekh,” is another Jewish instrumental melody but this time let’s skip the pretense. Just a hard-rocking klezmer tune played by a brass band full of swagger. This is another one from Panorama Brass Band’s legendary Ash Wednesday 2013 session at Piety Street Studios. On this number you’ll hear the gang, tired but tight from a busy Carnival schedule, banging out a wedding dance that feels here more like a rowdy street party.
Download Bagopolier Freylekh (mp3)
Released October 1st, 2016
Ben met Dr. Michael White on the Mall in Washington DC back in the Summer of 1985. They struck up a conversation that day and within a couple years, after Ben relocated to New Orleans, they became fast friends. Now, over 30 years later, they have finally made their first recording together!
The selection, a cumbia titled “Tolú,” was written and originally recorded by the great Colombian clarinetist and bandleader Lucho Bermúdez and his Orchestra. Cumbia music, Bermúdez’ stock in trade, originates among the Afro-Latin people along Columbia’s Caribbean coast and this tune’s title refers to a town in that region.
Download Tolú (mp3)
Released September 1st, 2016
On September 1st, 2005, 11 years ago, the members of your personal Jazz Band all found themselves in unfamiliar places watching television as their hometown was inundated by the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and their compatriots struggled to survive in the chaos that ensued. Clarinetist and bandleader Ben Schenck, along with his wife and her brother, piano-man, bandleader and songwriter (and eventual HBO character) Davis Rogan, managed to find a soft place to land with good friends in Baton Rouge from where they were able to plot their return to New Orleans.
Our offering for this September 1st features Davis and Ben playing and singing the perennial favorite, “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think).” They have each written a new verse on the same theme and Davis also gives a monologue in praise of those New Orleanians who brought a little piece of home with them wherever they went in the aftermath of the levee failures.
Download Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think) (mp3)
Released August 1st, 2016
Friends, here it is – Panorama’s 100th track, the “Blue Star Jubilee.” And this one’s a banger.
We released our first album, Another Hot Night in February, in April 2003 and those 16 songs put us on the trajectory that has led to this moment. Katrina slowed us down a little, becoming parents slowed us down a lot, but now, 13 years later, we offer you number 100 and hope that you enjoy it.
Although we don’t know the tune’s original title, Plave Zvezde (“Blue Stars” in the Serbian language) is the name of the Roma wedding band from whom we learned this month’s presentation. The arrangement was brought in by Panorama Flugelhorn man JR Hankins with input from Patrick Farrell (who you will have heard on alto horn with the brass band and accordion on the Jazz Band’s first 2 albums). The form is basically a series of super-bad riff patterns with a couple solo breaks and an ad -lib section featuring the alto saxophones.
Download Blue Star Jubilee (mp3)
Released July 1st, 2016
The Creole mazurka, “la mazouk,” is a fashionable dance in the Caribbean, featuring a syncopated three beat pattern. Instead of a waltz, think of a biguine (such as “Serpent Maigre, our May 2014 release) with an extra beat.
We learned this month’s track-of-the-month, “La Mazouk En Avant,” from a recording made by Martinique clarinet hero Eugène Delouche in 1953 that featured a vocal by David Martial. Our version spotlights New Orleans chanteuse and Panorama collaborator Jane Harvey Brown (check out our May 2016 release, “Shame Shame Shame,” as well as three tunes on our Panoramaland CD, “Don’t Touch Me Tomato,” “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” and “If You Love Me“). You will also hear instrumental solos by Panorama saxophonist Aurora Nealand and our trombonist Charlie Halloran.
Special thanks to the France-based vocalist Sylvain Padra, originally from Martinique, who transcribed the lyrics from the original Delouche recording as well as to the Haitian-born, New Orleans-living teacher, Yves Conséant, for providing the English translation.
Download La Mazouk En Avant (mp3)
Released June 1st, 2016
Pembe Oro is a very popular tune in Macedonia that comes to us via our accordionist Matt Schreiber. The title means “Pink Dance” (although we’re not sure what that refers to).
In Macedonia or Southern Bulgaria you might hear a plucked and fretted stringed instrument called a Tambura that is commonly used in folkloric music. Our recording features guest banjoist, Bulgaria-born and New Orleans-living Georgi Petrov, playing a tenor banjo he borrowed for the session from our regular player, Patrick Mackey. This particular instrument, like the tambura, the mandolin or the 12-string guitar, features double string courses where there are eight strings, instead of four, tuned in unisons or octaves. With it’s brighter sound and longer decay, it lends the track a bit of a different flavor than anything we’ve heard so far in Panorama’s output.
Download Pembe Oro (mp3)
Released May 1st, 2016
This song, 25th in this series of monthly drops, represents our first foray into the realm of top 40 pop music. “Shame Shame Shame” by Shirley and Company, hit the charts in 1974 and made it to #1 on the Soul charts, #12 on Billboard.
Here’s the New Orleans connection. Raise your hand if you remember the old R&B hit, “Let The Good Times Roll.” How about “Feels So Good,” both by an act called Shirley and Lee? That’s the same, Shirley, Shirley Goodman, born in New Orleans 1936, as you hear on “Shame Shame Shame.” She was in her teens and twenties in the 1950’s with Lee and in her thirties and forties in the 1970’s with “Company,” featuring the Cuban-born singer from Newark, New Jersey named Jesus Alvarez.
Our version employs more of a samba feel while maintaining the Cuban clave beat and spotlights New Orleans vocalists Jane Harvey Brown (who you can also hear on our second album, Panoramaland) as well as Ben’s brother-in-law, New Orleans bandleader, songwriter, piano player and HBO character, Davis Rogan.
Download Shame Shame Shame (mp3)
Released April 1st, 2016
Written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by harmonica innovator and Louisiana native Little Walter, this Chicago blues party caught our ears a few years ago and we started playing it on our weekly Saturday night gig at the Spotted Cat.
Our version, which banjo man Patrick Mackey nicknamed “Wiggle Wiggle,” features a vocal by Panorama front-man Ben Schenck, an accordion blues chorus by special guest Michael Ward-Bergeman, a go on the trombone by long-time Panoramian Charlie Halloran and a ride by guest saxophonist Tomas Majcherski. The groove is propelled by Mackey, tuba ace Matt Perrine and Paul Thibodeaux on the drums.
Download Mellow Down Easy (mp3)
Released March 1st, 2016
Drunken revelers in masks and costumes rolling through the streets of the French Quarter followed by a raucous brass band! Wait a minute, didn’t we just do that? But this isn’t Mardi Gras, this time it’s the Jewish holiday of Purim.
These drunken revelers are members of New Orleans’ Krewe du Jieux and Purim is the Jewish holiday celebrating the biblical story of Esther in which she and her cousin, Mordecai, triumph over Haman, adviser to the Persian king, who wants to kill all Jews in the Empire.
Many thanks to Mark Rubin and Henry Sapoznik for bringing this music to Panorama. Thanks also to Mr Sapoznik for editing our liner notes.
Download Purim in the Quarter (mp3)
Released February 1st, 2016
Geljan Dade (pron. “Ghel-yon Dod-day”) was brought to the Brass Band by accordionist and alto horn man Patrick Farrell. Although the song’s origin is unknown to us, it was originally popularized by the late Serbian-Romani (Gypsy) vocalist Šaban Bajramovic, from the southern Serbian city of Niš.
The title means “Father is Gone” in Romani and refers to the singer’s father having travelled to America. Geljan Dade has been performed and recorded by bands around the world and Patrick’s arrangement is based on a recording by Orkestar Bakije Bakica from the southern Serbian village of Vranje.
Panorama Brass Band has gotten a lot of mileage out of this tune for the past several years. It has become a Mardi Gras favorite of our dance team, the Panoramblers, as well as our mother-krewe, the Saint Anthony Ramblers.
Download Geljan Dade (mp3)
Released January 1st, 2016
Your Panorama track for January is a breath of fresh air from the Caribbean, a Creole biguine titled “Parfum Des Îsles” (Perfume of the Islands), written by Guadeloupean clarinetist, saxophonist and pianist Édouard Pajaniandy (aka Mariépin, 1916-2004).
Our interpretation spotlights Panorama saxophonist Aurora Nealand, delivering the line with increasing warmth over the lovely rhythmic foundation provided by drummer Doug Garrison, tuba man Steve Glenn and Patrick Mackey, who swaps his banjo for tenor guitar on this track. The arrangement, by clarinetist and leader Ben Schenck, features accompanying horn parts and a chord-melody intro delivered first on the tenor guitar, used later by the horns to segue back to the head.
Download Parfum Des Îsles (mp3)
Released December 1st, 2015
For our annual Christmas release this year, we present another familiar tune in an unfamiliar style: Jingle Bells as a Bulgarian rachenitza. This folk dance, an up-tempo seven, fits the melody of Jingle Bells and gives listeners a challenge on the dance floor (hint: the beat pattern is 4+3).
The track opens with a tuba vamp originated by the legendary Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen and borrowed from the Treme Brass Band’s 1995 recording of “Food Stamp Blues.” After one time down, Matt Schreiber (accordion) and Ben Schenck (clarinet) give lengthy ad lib solos on different makams (Turkish scales), energy building, until at last the band finally breaks into 4/4 (cue the sleigh bells). Then, with the return to the top, once again in seven, it somehow feels this time like the right way to celebrate Christmas.
Download Jingle Bells (mp3)
Released November 1st, 2015
Last November we put out a klezmer number, based on old Hassidic melodies, that we called “Home for the Holidays” (scroll down to Nov 1, 2014). It was loosely intended as our first annual Hanukkah release. This year’s drop is called “Hanukkah on Japonica” and features a traditional Jewish bulgar (“The Voliner Bulgar”) with a Hanukkah song (“Sevivon”) folded in.
Japonica Street is the “lowest street in the upper Ninth Ward,” right next to the Industrial Canal. In this recording, we imagine the drums and clarinet calling everybody out of their houses to come celebrate the Festival of Lights. The accordion, tuba, banjo trombone and saxophone quickly fall in and it soon becomes apparent that “a great miracle happened there!”
Download Hanukkah on Japonica (mp3)
Released October 1st, 2015
Last month we put out the first, titled “Esperanzas” (“Hopes”), of two Venezuelan waltzes. Your Venezuelan waltz for October features the wonderful Venezuela-born, New Orleans-living vocalist, Yulene Velásquez, and her husband, accordionist Michael Ward-Bergman, in a lovely, nostalgic rhapsody called “Recordando a Venezuela” (“Remembering Venezuela”).
Lyricist Gerardo Petit wrote the poem in the early 1970s upon encountering a statue of “El Libertador,” Simón Bolívar, in Central Park, New York City. The words tell of his longing for his homeland and his pride in being Venezuelan. The lyrics were set to music by award winning Venezuelan composer Manuel Delgado and we present here our version arranged by Ms. Velásquez and Panorama clarinetist Ben Schenck.
Download Recordando a Venezuela (mp3)
Released September 1st, 2015
Your Panorama track for September represents a genre that has become increasingly important for the band over the past decade, that of the Venezuelan Waltz. Titled “Esperanzas” (“Hopes”) and originally recorded in New York in 1918, this is the first of two Venezuelan waltzes for the Fall and our second from the repertoire of Trinidadian composer and pianist Lionel Belasco (1881-1967).
Compared to the better known Viennese waltz, the South American counterpart has an earthier and more polyrhythmic groove. Check out the maraca work of Panorama drummer Doug Garrison and stay tuned for next month’s release, “Recordando A Venezuela,” which features the Venezezuela-born, New Orleans chanteuse Yulene Velásquez in a heart-felt performance that adds yet another stamp to the band’s passport.
Released August 1st, 2015
Your Panorama track for August has the feel of a hot, humid, August afternoon strut through one of the Crescent City’s more rhythmic neighborhoods. This tune, “Keep On Gwine,” was popularized by the Piano Prince of New Orleans, James Booker and has been covered by countless of Booker’s followers. With this offering, we hope to rank in that number.
Released July 1st, 2015
Your Panorama track for July is another Creole biguine, this one from the repertoire of Martiniquan clarinetist Eugène Delouche and written by his collaborator, guitarist Pollo Malahel. The tropical dance melody has been in the Panorama book since our first gig 20 years ago and features our “Summertime cats” (filling in for those Panoramians who have evacuated to cooler territories) with music for your Fourth of July barbecue.
Released June 1st, 2015
Your Panorama track for June 2015 is from a video we shot in June of last year just over the Mississippi levee for a series produced by Laine Kaplan-Levenson and Hard Road Pictures called Levee Acoustics. Our late friend and collaborator, Bill Deputy, was the sound engineer on the project and he made a mix of this waltz for us to release as part of this “track of the month” series.
Download Si O No Vals (mp3)
Released May 1st, 2015
A chocheck is a traditional dance from the Roma people (“Gypsies”) of Southeastern Europe. Although the step is different, the groove is very similar to a New Orleans second line. Dig, if you will, Matt Perrine’s reference to “Hey Pocky Way” in the tuba vamp behind the solos. And pay special attention to Tomas Majcherski’s silky saxophone solo.
Released April 1st, 2015
April’s Panorama drop is a Creole mazurka we recorded just the other day, March 6th, at one of our favorite venues in New Orleans, the Old US Mint which is run by the Louisiana State Museum and the National Park Service. Known as a “Mazouk” in Creole, this rhythm is similar to the biguines we’ve been offering, but in three quarter time, with an extra beat each measure. This is no waltz, however, but a hot, syncopated three.
Released March 1st, 2015
As Panorama celebrates our 20th year, we are joined by another New Orleans institution, ArtSpot Productions, which also began performing around the same time and whose evolution has paralleled ours these past two decades. In 1996 Panorama clarinetist and founder, Ben Schenck, appeared in a piece ArtSpot and director Kathy Randels produced called How To Be a Man in the 21st Century. This month’s release is a song that Ben wrote for that show and ArtSpot included in their 2012 CD, I Know This To Be True.
Released February 1st, 2015
In honor of Mardi Gras here in New Orleans, this month’s release features our marching outfit, the Panorama Brass Band with a mambo from the “Mambo King,” Pérez Prado y su Orquesta. We recorded this one, tired but no worse for the wear, on Ash Wednesday 2013, after a frenetic carnival season that culminated in the annual ramble with our patron krewe, the St. Anthony Ramblers.
Released January 1st, 2015
A few years ago, banjoman Patrick Mackey’s brother took a trip with his wife to St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. While they were there, they heard a band called Jamesie and His Musical Kafooners playing traditional “scratch” music and bought a cassette. They gave the tape to Patrick who was captivated by one of the tunes which he eventually transcribed and arranged for Panorama.
Download Cuando El Mundo Comenzó (mp3)
Released December 1st, 2014
Your December Panorama track is a Christmas tune we’re calling, Christmas (Like Ya Just Don’t Care). It’s based on the traditional English carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen but, after one time down in the traditional minor key, the banjo and floor tom interrupt and we find ourselves in the parallel major for a New Orleans street party.
We hope you’ll enjoy something fresh-yet-recognizable this holiday season and put it in steady rotation. Wave your hands up in the air and celebrate Christmas like ya just don’t care!
Super extra thanks to Charlie Zeleny for special graphics.
Released November 1st, 2014
November’s drop, which we’re calling “Home for the Holidays,” is an old collection of hassidic melodies originally recorded in New York City, 1927, by the Boibriker Kapelle (featuring the legendary Dave Tarras on clarinet) under the title “Ch’sidishe Nigunim.”
Released October 1st, 2014
Our October 2014 track is something completely new and different for us. While it is our second recording that originates from the realm of classical music (nineteenth century Paris, in fact – see our August release, below), it is our first foray into the world of opera. For this, we are privileged to collaborate with the multi-faceted New Orleans vocalist Katherine McClain whose special talent is that of the coloratura soprano.
Released September 1st, 2014
September’s track is another biguine from Martinique (see our May release, Serpent Maigre, below). But where the first is a sunny romp in Bb major, Mettez I Dehro (“Put Him Out,” in Creole) begins with a more serious and aggressive type of party in G minor. Until we arrive at the B section, that is, when we find ourselves in Bb again.
Released August 1st, 2014
Gabriel Fauré wrote his Sicilienne, Op. 78 in Paris 1893, during the period known as “La Belle Époque.” Think Art Nouveau, the Folies Bergère, the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec and the bohemian lifestyle in the cafés of Montmartre.
Released July 1st, 2014
Di Shikerer Tantz (“Drunkard Dance”) is a melodic line we’ve been playing in the Panorama Brass Band for several years. It works great out on the parade route, especially the night parades. From there we brought it into the Jazz Band and even had a round of shnapps brought to the bandstand by an appreciative festival goer when we played it at the French Quarter Festival a few years ago.
Released June 1st, 2014
This month’s track, titled Chororo, was brought in by Matt Schreiber who recently moved with his wife to New Orleans from Portland Maine to fill Panorama’s accordion chair.
Chororo ranked number one on the Yugoslav folk music chart for the year 1969 and Matt learned it in 2011 on a visit to Serbia from a young accordionist named Ljuba Petrovic. Ljuba is the great nephew of the accordionist Duško Petrovic who, born into a family of famous musicians in the Romani community of Grabovica, wrote and recorded the original hit.
Released May 1st, 2014
Serpent Maigre (aka Sèpan Meg) is a biguine from the repertoire of Martiniquan clarinetist Alexandre Stellio (1885-1939) who led a band in Paris in the 1920s and ’30s. Charlie discovered it a couple years ago on a biguine compilation he ran across and we started messing around with it at our weekly gigs.