Saturday, August 09, 2014

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
New Orleans piano with Tom McDermott

This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring pianist Tom McDermott, a St. Louis native now living in New Orleans who's coming back home to play this coming Thursday, August 14 at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

(The events page on hHis website also shows a gig on Wednesday, August 13 at Joe's Cafe, but none of the three websites associated with that venue make any mention of it, and there don't seem to be any listings of it in local media, so we're still trying to verify that.)

McDermott, 57, grew up here in St. Louis and earned degrees at St. Louis University and Washington University. A fan of ragtime and traditional jazz from an early age, after graduation he did some freelance writing about music for the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat before his interest in New Orleans music prompted him to move there in 1984.

He found work first as solo pianist, and eventually joined the Dukes of Dixieland, touring extensively and recording several albums with the group. Then in 1995, he co-founded the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and made three albums with them while also continuing his solo career.

McDermott has worked frequently with clarinetist Evan Christopher, and more recently has been doing a regular weekly gig with singer Meschiya Lake. With a dozen albums as a leader to his credit, his music has been used on NPR, and he's also had small roles in several movies and TV programs, most notably the HBO series Treme.

One of his most recent recordings is a duo album with Lake, recorded earlier this year at their regular gig at Chickie Wah Wah, and last year, famed producer Van Dyke Parks oversaw the compilation of a "best of" album called Bamboula.

Interestingly, McDermott has come to be regarded as something of an expert on New Orleans traditional music and piano styles, an unusual distinction for a non-native of the city. In 2012 he was asked to present a performance and lecture about New Orleans piano styles at Tulane University, and you can see that presentation in its entirety in the first video window up above.

After the jump, there are two clips that McDermott selected for posting on his own website: his interpretation of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," recorded in December 2007 at his home in New Orleans, and an excerpt from a set he played with Meschiya Lake at Louisiana Music Factory during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The fourth clip shows McDermott with Evan Christopher at a gig in 2007 at Snug Harbor in New Orleans, playing in the Brazilian style called choro, which the two explored on the 2005 album Danza.

The final two clips, two more solo pieces recorded at the same time as "Maple Leaf Rag,", are a version of the New Orleans standard "Tipitina" and McDermott's own composition "Copasetic Boogie."

For more about Tom McDermott, read this feature story written by Terry Perkins for the St. Louis Beacon before McDermott's visit back home last year.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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