Connie Jones and the French Quarter Festival All Stars featuring Pete Fountain
Connie Jones is a master trumpeter and cornet player as well as a member of French Quarter Festival’s entertainment committee. He first picked up a bugle while in military school, and he began playing trumpet at the age of ten. When he was just 18, Connie got his professional start playing traditional New Orleans jazz on Bourbon Street. Last year, Connie debuted a duet album, Creole Nocturne, with pianist Tom McDermott highlighting his improvisational talents. Connie Jones and his French Quarter Festival All Stars open up the French Quarter Festival for the 10th year in a row on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 11:00 am on the Jackson Square Stage. Alongside other well known artists, Connie is joined by Pete Fountain, his long-time friend and musical colleague along with clarinetist Tim Laughlin. The French Quarter Festival All Stars are backed by the rhythm section of Otis Bazzon, John Royen, Ed Wise, and Bryan Barberot.
Tim Laughlin is a native of New Orleans who started playing the clarinet at the age of nine. He discovered New Orleans-style jazz shortly after and immersed himself in recordings from many of the greats. After high school, he began performing with his own band around town as well as working as a sideman and quickly made a name for himself. He’s played with dozens of bands including The Dukes of Dixieland, Al Hirt, Connie Jones and Pete Fountain. He is also known for writing his own compositions, including his most requested song, “The Isle of Orleans.” Currently he has a dozen solo recordings. His latest recording featuring Connie Jones is set to be released at this year’s 2011 French Quarter Festival.
Pete Fountain was born in New Orleans and started playing clarinet, heavily influenced first by Benny Goodman and then Irving Fazola. Early on he played with the bands of Monk Hazel – The Dukes of Dixieland and Al Hirt. With his long time friend, trumpeter George Girard, Fountain founded The Basin Street Six in 1950. In 1957, Fountain was hired to join the Lawrence Welk orchestra and became well known for his many solos on The Lawrence Welk Show. Fountain returned to New Orleans, and opened his own French Quarter Jazz club in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1977, he acquired ‘Pete Fountain’s Jazz Club’ at the Riverside Hilton, New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz Club presented ‘Pete Fountain Day’ on October 19, 1959, with celebrations honoring the pride of their city concluding with a packed concert. His band, ‘Pete Fountain’s Quintett’ was made up of his studio recording musicians, Don Bagley, Godfrey Hirch, Merle Koch and Jack Sperling. Fountain brought these same players together in 1963 when they played the Hollywood Bowl. Pete would continue the trek to Hollywood, appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 59 times. In 2003 Fountain closed his club at the Hilton with a performance before a full house. He then began performing two nights a week at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, where he had a home (later destroyed by Hurricane Katrina). In 2006 he helped reopen the casino (now Hollywood Casino) and regularly performed there. Fountain is a founder, and the most prominent member of the ‘Half Fast Walking Club’ one of the best known walking Krewes that parade in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day. Fountain’s clarinet work is noted for his “Fat” sound. He has recorded over 100 LPs and CDs under his own name. Loyola University New Orleans awarded Fountain an honorary Doctorate of Music degree in 2006. On March 18, 2007, Pete Fountain was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Longtime friend Connie Jones and his French Quarter Festival All Stars featuring Pete Fountain, open French Quarter Festival each year on the Jackson Square stage.