Milton Batiste (1935-2001) dedicated much of his life to the preservation of New Orleans jazz and brass band music. When Harold "Duke" Dejan revived the 75-year-old Olympia brass band in 1958, Milton Batiste was at his side. The band gained worldwide admiration and spread the gospel of New Orleans music in a dozen countries.
I saw the Olympia in the late1960s when they visited Canada on a Southern States promotional tour. Memories of meeting and chatting with such legends as Milton Batiste, Albert Burbank, Andrew Jefferson, Harold Dejan and the venerable Henry "Booker T" Glass remain etched in my memory. Another imposing character was the band’s giant grand marshal, Anderson Minor.
This 1993 session was recorded in the Netherlands and showcases Batiste with Kid Adam’s La Vida New Orleans Jazz Band
Leader / trumpeter Kid Adam Olivier sits out the concert with the exception of the final track, Saint Louis Blues. The "La Vida" band provides convincing and powerful backup for the New Orleans guest star. Milton Batiste is very comfortable with the Dutch septet. The trumpeter’s fine singing voice came as "news" to this writer, having heard Batiste only in the brass band format. With the exception of "Saints", traditional hymns are absent on the session. Milton probably played a thousand funerals in his years with Olympia and knew all the dirges only too well. He probably needed a vacation from the street music.
Batiste loved R&B too and includes "Blueberry Hill" and "Rock Me" in the first set. Roelof Jan Brouwer blows a hot alto in the Earl Bostic tradition behind the vocals. Brouwer is an exciting and powerful soloist.
Personal favorites on this CD include Bogalusa Strut
, Mardi Gras In New Orleans
and St. James Infirmary Blues
. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
provides a fun vehicle for Batiste’s gravely voice and some great solo work by alto sax, piano and trombone.
Milton Batiste died in the spring of 2001 and three thousand people danced under an interstate overpass as the funeral limousines passed overhead. He was well loved!