Monday, January 18, 2010

Tuba Fats: A New Orleans musician passed away (2004)

Tuba Fats: Muzikant uit New Orleans overleden in 2004 (Nederlands) Tuba Fats: A New Orleans musician passed away (2004)( English)

A traditional New Orleans jazz funeral
Tuba Fats: A New Orleans musician passed away (2004 )
Hans Koert

Anthony Lacen, a tuba player from New Orleans, known as Tuba Fats, passed away on the 11th of January 2004 and was buried in the traditional New Orleans way on the 18th of January, 2004, now six years ago.
Tuba Fats at a street concert in 1972
Six years ago, Anthony Lacen, who was a known tuba player in his hometown New Orleans, passed away due to a heart attack. He was one of those musicians who tried, against all trends, to keep the New Orleans musical tradition alive, as it must have been sounded in the first half of the last century.
Dew Drop Inn at the La Salle Street in New Orleans
He was born as Anthony Lacen in New Orleans in September 1950 and raised in the neighborhood of the Dew Drop Inn, one of those famous venues in New Orleans to hear its music. As a child he must have heard the music in the streets of the city and at the elementary school he learned to play thanks to Alvin Thomas. He became one of the most well known tuba players and got the nick name Tuba Fats, the latter word refering to his size. He was to be heard in numerous New Orleans bands, like the Olympia Brass Band, the Original Tuxedo Brass Band and performed with his own band, the Tuba Fats Chosen Few Brass Band at the Jackson Square in New Orleans. At night he played in clubs like the Donna's Bar & Grill.
I found a recording with the extensive title: Anthony Tuba Fats Lacen with the Rue Conti Jazz Band and special guests Orange Kellin and Dan Pawson, which I adore since then, as one of my finest New Orleans recordings. The music was recorded, ten years before he passed away, at the 1994 Keswick Jazz Festival ( England) and features, as the title suggests, also Orange Kellin and Daw Pawson. Orange Kellin was born in Sweden, but is since the 1960s a New Orleans resident. He performed with the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra.
I like the tuba sounds of Tuba Fats on this recording together with the Rue Conti Jazz Band, directed by Mick Burns, vocalist, who plays the trombone.
On the 11th of January, 2004 Tuba Fats passed away and he was laid to rest at the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. His funeral was a traditional jazz funeral as it was organized in New Orleans in the last century, in which the coffin is brought to the cemetery in a procession with a live New Orleans band playing. This jazz funeral for Tuba Fats, organized today six years ago, was documented extensively by Chuck Taggart, who posted a great series of photos on his Gumbo Pages, dedicated to preserve the New Orleans culture.
Tuba Fats's instrument ( photo courtesy: Chuck Taggart)
This jazz funeral is, except on photos, also recorded on films and I love to finish with some fragments of his jazz funeral. It gives you an impression how such a traditional jazz funeral was organized and sounded.

Hans Koert

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Blogger Jo said...

"Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. If the women don't get him, the whiskey must"! - Thanks a lot for posting this interesting view of a traditional NO funeral. I like Tuba Fats, a pity he had to 'come home' too early.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

During Jazz Fest in 2004 I walked past the Artist Bedonna. The Tuba Fat's grabbed hold of my heart. I was haunted by his sound, spirit and love for jazz the rest of the day. Later in the day I had to go back and purchase the piece of art of him. I have been touched daily by him and his love for jazz and New Orleans. His spirit lives on!
Teresa L

3:26 PM  

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