Hart McNee Musical Tribute Recap

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On Monday evening (July 20, 2009), the downtown musical community gathered to honor and celebrate the life of Hart McNee, a bass flautist and baritone saxophonist, who was a mentor and friend to hundreds of musicians.  The house band got started at just after 5 PM at DBA with Dave Sobel on drums, Peter Harris on bass, Jonathan Freilich on guitar and Christopher Kohl on bass clarinet.  They played a couple of numbers before Rick Trolsen joined them on trombone.  The crowd was light at the beginning with mostly musicians hanging out.  Coco Robicheaux, resplendent in white, curved tip shoes and tight white jeans, egged on each solo from the gallery seats before the crowd turned the tables and egged him onto the stage.  Manny Lander, who worked with McNee in the seminal New Orleans Latin band Mas Mamones, sang his heart out in Spanish before Robicheaux took the stage to sing the blues for McNee.  Horn players continued to arrive as the gig took on the trappings of a jazz jam session.  Ken Ferdinand, who was part of the front line of the Storyville Stompers with McNee, added some piercing high notes on trumpet.  Dan Oestreicher, a well regarded young baritone saxophonist, and tenor saxophonist Martin Krusche formed a wailing sax section.  Two well-known musicians joined in the proceedings- but not on their usual instruments.  Tom Fitzpatrick, best known as a saxophonist with Walter “Wolfman” Washington’s Roadmasters joined in on flute.  Matt Rhody, known mostly as a violinist for the Hot Club of New Orleans, blew some clean lines on a trumpet.  Peter Spring brought his arsenal of bamboo flutes. The producer Mark Bingham took a rare turn on stage, playing guitar and singing in a plaintive voice.  Towards the end of the evening, Jason Stewart took over on bass along with Dave Capello on drums.  By the end of the night, Andrew Wiseman joined in on vocals and percussion; Sean Clark played some drums; Janna Saslaw arrived with a bass flute and Ian McPhail with a tenor saxophone.  The turnout of musicians allowed for some wonderful music to be created in memory of Hart.

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