“Instead of staying three or four days in New Orleans, I ended up staying almost three weeks. And yeah, I started hanging out with the musicians, jamming, and yes, that’s how I fell in love with this city. I remember I went to Austin just to take a flight back.
I moved to New Orleans and a year later I went to Europe for a tour with my band. As soon as I started playing, everybody looked at me and said, “You changed, completely.” I didn’t see that actually, but I feel like when I moved to New Orleans, I removed a lot of chains. I became more free. I don’t calculate my music as much. I grew up in a culture that calculated music, and calculated notes. But here, everything is free. Everything is easy. I gained confidence. I began writing music here. Musicians are amazing here. There’s so, so much talent. And I’m so happy to be here, surrounded by these artists. Everything I write, it sounds beautiful, and that’s because of the generosity and the love and dedication that the musicians have here.
It’s an interesting thing because I don’t play jazz. I’m not a jazz musician. I’m a composer and most of my music, it’s a mixture of many influences, like North African and Middle Eastern, Spanish, Latin, and now there’s jazz. It became a part of my music. It gives my music a lot of breathing room. Freedom.”
– Mahmoud Chouki

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

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Yesterday there was no Christmas in Bethlehem
Jerry Wexler recalls growing up as a jazz kid