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Bob French, R.I.P.


jeffcrom
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I've just learned that New Orleans drummer, disc jockey, and character Bob French died on Monday, November 12, at the age of 74. Like most New Orleans musicians of his generation, he could play just about any style. His "specialty," if he had one, was traditional jazz, but he also played and recorded with R & B artists like Fats Domino and Earl King. (That's him on "Trick Bag.") He was the son of banjoist Albert "Papa" French, who played with Papa Celestin for years. Papa French "inherited" the leadership of the Tuxedo Jazz Band from Celestin; Bob French took over the band in turn when his father died in the 1970s.

French also hosted the traditional jazz show on Tuesday mornings on WWOZ for years, starting promptly at 8:00 AM in spite of his regular Monday night gig at Donna's. He was a hoot to listen to when I was in town. One night in 2000 I heard him at Donna's; Henry Butler was supposed to be playing piano with the band, but didn't show, so Davell Crawford was ably filling in. The next morning on WWOZ, Bob played "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?" and dedicated it to Henry Butler.

Edited by jeffcrom
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I only know his playing from the recording he did backing Little Sonny Jones (CSA and Black Magic). According to the liner notes on that one, he also recorded with Dave Bartholomew. That's all I know of his work, but he evidently was another in the long line of musicians who played their parts well.

R.I.P., Mr. French, and thanks for what you gave us and left us.

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And I wanted to point out that the Tuxedo Jazz Band must be one of the oldest bands in the world with a more or less continuous lineage. Oscar Celestin was the leader beginning in the 1920s; Papa French took over in the 50s. Bob French led the band from the 1970s until last year, and now his nephew leads the band.

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