On Friday April 5, 2019, the Senior Men’s Club will feature a Dixieland Band for the second time in two consecutive years. It was so much enjoyed in May 2018, that a repeat performance is warranted.
“Dixieland”, as a type of music, had its origins in New Orleans in the early Twentieth Century by a group that became known as the “Original Dixieland Jazz Band”. Early recordings of the music came upon the entertainment scene around 1917 and advanced an increasing awareness of a fun, rhythmic, toe-tapping, happy music form that easily motivated personal and group participation. The music is also often characterized by improvisation performances by the individual players. As a music style, it continued to become increasingly popular, and the name “Dixieland” became associated with a music genre, rather than a specific music group. The style gained popularity in the 1920s, and might be regarded as being responsible for the jazz revival movement of the late 1930s through the 1950s. It continues to be a popular music form.
Harvey Richard Paul was born over sixty years ago in the then-thriving steel town of Braddock, PA. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he had a life-changing experience, when he and his roommate played host to clarinet great Pee Wee Russell in their dorm room. He survived that experience, graduated from Harvard, subsequently from medical school, and eventually specialized in pediatrics. He explains that somewhere around 1993, after several years practicing as a successful pediatrician at Premier Pediatric Associates and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, he was overcome by “some kind of epiphany”, and became “Dixie Doc”, cornet aficionado and Dixieland enthusiast, and leader and spokesman for the Dixie Docs.
The group plays all types of Dixieland, including blues, ballads and the standard Dixie tunes that people recognize and enjoy. At full force, the instrumentation consists of front line, including cornet, trombone and clarinet. The rhythm section consists of piano, bass and drums. A banjo is frequently added for additional rhythm. The music is played in classical and easy-going Dixieland style, and the musicians strive to augment the performances of each of the others, rather than grab the spotlight. It is natural in this informal style to feature improvisation. The band captures the old New Orleans sound and is experienced in “playing to the crowd”.
This promises to be a very interesting Friday, and if you enjoy the entertainment, the group is regularly featured at the Penn Brewery, located on Vinial Street on the North Side.