Friday, May 10, 2013

Tuxedo Jazz Band subject of new book; new releases and awards

            The longest continuously performing jazz band in New Orleans and the first jazz band to play the White House was The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. The group organized during the early years of jazz with Oscar “Papa” Celestin and William “Bebe” Ridgley, among others.
            Sally Newhart, a transplant to New Orleans, follows the band from its inception until today in “The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band: More Than A Century of A New Orleans Icon,” published by The History Press. Curator Bruce Raeburn of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane writes the foreword.
            Reading the history of this long-standing jazz band is to understand the beginning and evolution of jazz in New Orleans. Celestin not only founded the band (shared for a time with Ridgley) but helped organize the local Federation of Musicians union in New Orleans, recorded some of the first jazz albums and introduced a young trumpeter to the world, Louis Armstrong. It was Armstrong, who saw Celestin as a father figure and who gave Celestin his nickname.
            “This book is the tale of a jazz band that has not only transcended the stereotypes but has also survived for more than a century (a feat that has never been equaled in jazz history), working its way from the black tenderloin into the homes and hearts of the city’s affluent, white social elite in less than a decade,” writes Raeburn.
            Later bandleaders included Bob French, who sadly passed away in 2012.

New releases
            Edward Kelsey Moore follows three women in mid-life as they grapple with a husband’s infidelities, a youthful love affair that has returned and a terrifying bout with cancer in “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.” The Indiana threesome were nicknamed “The Supremes” as young women by the owner of the all-black diner, Big Earl McIntyre. They meet at the same booth reserved for them every Sunday after church, cherishing their friendship as well as being each other’s rock. The book alternates back and forth from real-time booth sitting to the women’s — and the town’s — colorful background. It’s a lovely read full of heart and soul that will leave you smiling.
             Mykisha Mac of New Orleans begins a sci-fi series with “Introducing Star IV,” which examines issues such as child abuse, foster care systems throughout the world, infant loss, miscarriage and bullying. For information, visit
            Charlaine Harris, author of the popular Sookie Stackhouse series, announced her latest will be her last book in the series; “Dead Ever After” is scheduled to hit bookstore shelves on Tuesday. I’m torn in my feelings, having loved the paranormal series set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, but found the latest books taking too long to catch readers up on all the plotlines. That’s not to say that I won’t be in line to purchase my book this week. The story, according to the blub I found online, is that “a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime. But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…”

            ForeWord Reviews has named Gerald Duff's novel “Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League” by the UL-Lafayette Press (2012) a finalist for its 2012 Best of the Year Award in the Adult Fiction category. “Dirty Rice” follows talented pitcher Gemar Batiste of Texas who is recruited in 1935 to play for the Rayne Rice Birds, a minor league team and part of the “Evangeline League.” He brings the team fame with his expertise but, because of his Alabama-Coushatta Indian heritage, is asked to play the stereotypical Indian, encouraged to cheat. Batiste must learn how to honor his heritage and uphold the integrity of the game.

Readers’ Choice
            More than 20,000 students throughout the state voted to choose the winners of the 2013 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award and Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award. “Young Zeus” by G. Brian Karas was the top choice among third through fifth graders while “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier received the most votes among middle school students. The Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award for students in grades nine through 12 goes to “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare.
            The Young Readers’ Choice program is one of the core missions of the State Library of Louisiana and its goal is to foster a love of reading.
            For information about the program including previous winners, this year’s second place finishers and the list of books nominated for next year’s awards, visit and click on Literacy and Reading, then on Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at