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jeffcrom

Les Muscutt, 1941-2013

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New Orleans banjoist/guitarist Les Muscutt died on August 9, 2013, according to Thomas Jacobsen's New Orleans Notes blog. I started hearing/reading rumors about his death several weeks ago, but this is the closest to official confirmation that I have come across.

Les Muscutt is not a name likely to be familiar to many people here, but I held him in high esteem. On my first visit to New Orleans, in 1990, I bought an LP called Four Leaf Clover on the 504 label which collected unreleased tracks from various 504 sessions. I knew some of the names, but was surprised to see that the same banjoist was used on every session - someone I had never heard of. It soon became apparent why Muscutt was popular with New Orleans bandleaders - he was versatile, able to play banjo or guitar in traditional and more modern styles; his pulse was supple and swinging, and he apparently knew thousands of tunes.

I called him a New Orleans musician above, but Muscutt was an Englishman, born in Barrow-in-Furness in 1941. He moved to New Orleans in 1966, and by the 1970s was an essential part of the jazz scene there. I saw him perform many times, often at Preservation Hall or the Palm Court Cafe. I won't try to list the recordings he played on - it sometimes seemed like he was on half the traditional jazz albums made in New Orleans in the 1980s and 1990s. I suppose that his most "mainstream" recorded appearance was on the Verve Doc Cheatham/Nicholas Payton CD which came out in 1997. That album also has work by two other New Orleans-based musicians we lost this year, Jack Maheu and trombonist Tom Ebbert, who (as I just learned) died in January at the age of 94. (I saw Ebbert perform several times in the early 1990s, and he looked ancient then.)

Sorry about the length of this post, but Les Muscutt's death is not making any impact in the press, and I thought he deserved a memorial here. RIP, Mr. Muscutt.

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Sorry to hear about the death of Les. I interviewed him this year, at length, over the phone from the UK on June the 13th. It was for a project on the history of Jazz in Essex. The whole exhibition begins at Chelmsford Library on October the 12th, so I will make sure that Les is mentioned at the opening of course. He achieved so much in his life and lived his dream, and how many can say that? A remarkable musician.

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Your post made me smile, Snowboy.

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