New Orleans festivals feature music and more _lowres

The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission will offer free piano lessons for children ages 6 and older at recreation centers across the city this summer.

The New Orleans’ piano sound is instantly recognizable by its funky and rhythmic syncopated sound, even back to the days of Louis Gottshalk and Jelly Roll Morton. Each player since has included their own flourishes that have made their sound distinctive, yet part of the New Orleans piano genre.

In the 1800s, Gottschalk, an internationally famous piano player from New Orleans, incorporated Latin rhythms and rolling right hand figures. Decades later, Jelly Roll Morton incorporated a “Spanish tinge” into his music, but kept that rolling right hand. Jelly Roll was followed by “Tuts” Washington and Fats Domino. Domino added an element of boogie Woodie; while Professor Longhair laid down a funky piano style that is still imitated by piano players in New Orleans and can be heard in the playing of Dr. John and Harry Connick Jr.

Allen Toussaint distilled the New Orleans piano sound in his own more refined recordings and those he produced. James Booker added an energy to the tunes. And there are countless piano virtuosos in between including Art Neville, Eddie Bo, Henry Butler and David Torkanowsky– all playing funky from their New Orleans roots.