The only live performances of New Orleans/Traditional Jazz that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing were back in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. The group that I had the very good fortune to hear was made up of some of the best Jazz musicians from around New England. They were known as The Tommy Gallant All Stars.
Tommy Gallant was a Jazz pianist, teacher, colleague and a friend.
Besides being a deceptively brilliant, delightfully swinging and always entertaining player, he was, throughout his long career, a tireless promoter and supporter of Jazz in the seacoast New Hampshire area and beyond. His music and his work have been memorialized and perpetuated in the annual Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival, which celebrated its 17th season this past summer as part of the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth, NH and in the Tommy Gallant Memorial Jazz Concert held every Spring at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH.
Tommy taught Jazz piano and directed the Stage Band at Phillips Exeter from 1968 to 1998.
Thanks to the kindness of Mr. Charlie Jennison, President of the Seacoast Jazz Society, I have been given permission to share with you the only commercially-released recording (that I know of) of The Tommy Gallant All Stars.
This recording is taken from a 2002 CD entitled: Tommy Gallant and Friends – Live at the Press Room, Volume 1. It was put together by the Seacoast Jazz Society to raise funds for the Tommy Gallant Scholarship Fund.
All of the eight recordings on the CD were recorded live at the Press Room, the legendary (and still going strong) music venue located on Daniel Street in downtown Portsmouth, NH. The Tommy Gallant Trio was the house band at the Press Room most Sunday nights for many years. Besides their own extraordinary, bring-the-house-down performances, they provided first-rate accompaniment to a long list of locally distinguished and nationally known guest artists.
The members of the Tommy Gallant All Stars on this February 18, 1996 recording are: Dick Creeden, cornet; Jerry Fuller, clarinet; Don Doane, trombone; Tommy Gallant, piano; Jim Howe, bass; and Les Harris, Jr., drums.
Click on the blue link below for six minutes and thirty-five seconds of pure joy.
Tommy Gallant passed away on September 28, 1998 at the age of 63.
Still miss him.