Interview with Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum founder Al Jackson


Download the mp3 here

New Orleans is the world’s great open air university of jazz.

I have two wishes for all jazz fans:

1. That they visit New Orleans at least once

2. That they are lucky and get a good orientation to the city when they do (Like all cities it’s easy for first time visitors to get turned around without little a guidance.)

If you want to start your trip to New Orleans off on the best possible foot, my advice is make Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum your first stop.

You’ll discover one of the city’s most important neighborhoods and one that few tourists get to see. You’ll get a feel for the abundance of cultural influences that formed jazz. Plus you’ll meet one of the local heroes whose love for the city, the music and human culture makes New Orleans so great.

Some background on the Museum

Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum founder Al Jackson grew up in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, and has made it his life’s work to study New Orleans’ musical history. After working on many other projects all over the world (six years in the U.S. Air Force, data analysis to help create the Saturn IB rocket, and time in the New Orleans city government), Al has turned his attention to achieving his long-time dream: opening a museum dedicated to the history of jazz, right in the Treme.

Along with a group of local musicians and enthusiasts, Al created the Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum Foundation.

In 1997, Al and his business partner Paul Sylvester (owner of Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club) purchased the building at 1480 N. Claiborne Ave., the former home of Local #496. They were unfortunately unable to save the structure, and the building has since been demolished.

Al and Paul were surprised and pleased to find a treasure trove of artifacts on the property, attesting to the rich history of New Orleans music. These discoveries include: a ledger of performances inside the New Orleans city limits for the years 1939-1968, hundreds of performance contracts for local and visiting artists (Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Professor Longhair and many more), dozens of recording contracts from local producer Cosimo Matassa’s studio (Fats Domino, Little Richard, Dr. John, and Allen Toussaint to name a few).

More information on this unique cultural resource go here:

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

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