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Beloved pianist, Emile Vinette, dies

27th December 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing gpo personal loans Writer

For over four decades, pianist Emile Vinette brought his great elegance to whatever style of music was before him. The New Orleans native and self-taught musician’s proficiency in both traditional and modern jazz as well as rhythm and blues served him well. “It’s kept me working,” Vinette confirmed in a 1995 interview. Vinette, who remains best known in recent times as playing and recording with trumpeter/vocalist Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, died earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas where he’d been residing since Hurricane Katrina. Vinette was 72.

“He was a consummate pianist,” declares fellow keyboard man David Torkanowsky. “He played trad like Ahmad Jamal or Herbie Hancock on ‘Cookin’ at the Plug Nickel.’ He was a marvelous, liquid, fluid player unlike any other I’ve ever heard in New Orleans.”

Emile Venett

Vinette’s professional life in music bean in the 1950s when he joined trumpeter Melvin Lastie’s band that performed primarily jazz, blues and R&B at local nightspots such as the Autocrat how can i get a personal loan if i have bad credit Club and the Joy Tavern. In the 1960s, Vinette often worked with the noted, modern jazz group, the Red Tyler Quartet with bassist Chuck Badie and drummer Smokey Johnson as well as in other genres with greats such as trombonist Frog Joseph and the Adams brothers – guitarist Justin, bassist Gerry and drummer/bassist Placide. Vinette’s long association with bassist/vocalist George French also began in the 1960s playing with saxophonist David Lastie at hot spots like Sam & Kay’s in the Ninth Ward and Crazy Shirley’s on Bourbon Street. In the 1970s the Vinette/French duo worked with the Joe Fox Trio and then both went on to play with the Storyville Jazz Band led by trumpeter Teddy Riley.

This was Vinette’s first real venture into traditional jazz, a style that enabled him to travel to Europe. In the 1980s, the pianist’s dual roles as a traditional and modern player was, perhaps, most apparent. His sophisticated approach to modern jazz could often be heard at Snug Harbor teamed payday advance loans rock hill sc with bassist French and saxophonist Tyler. Meanwhile, he’d bring the same credentials playing classic New Orleans jazz at the Maison on Bourbon.

Modern jazz was Vinette’s forte on the recording arena until he teamed up with Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers. He was at the keys on the excellent album, 1988’s The New New Orleans Music: Vocal Jazz with Bazzle at the helm. He was also onboard for Bazzle’s release on Harold Battiste’s AFO label, Ovation, that was recorded live at the 1991 Jazz Fest.

The 1990s found Vinette again by the side of his long-time friend and music collaborator, George French, performing six nights a week at the Sheraton Hotel. Those lucky enough to pass by the Gazebo area were always richly rewarded.

“He had a serious way of voicing chords on the piano and his comp (accompanying other musicians) was killing,” French proclaims of Vinette’s many talents.

Another generation of music lovers discovered Vinette when he became a regular with Ruffins’ Barbecue Swingers. It weokie personal loan was always a smart idea to stand right next to the piano at Ruffins’ regular Thursday night gigs at Vaughan’s in order to hear Vinette’s uniquely subtle offerings as he added all of his knowledge of jazz to every tune. Vinette’s right-on approach, one that brought to the group a taste of New Orleans modern jazz, is heard on Ruffins’ Basin Street recordings starting in 1997 with the The Barbecue Swingers Live. The year 1999 brought us Swing This and 2002 was the time for The Big Easy.

With his huge talent and diversity, Emile Vinette encompassed what this city’s music is about. He was a rather a quiet man, with a deceivingly down-turned mouth, whose warmth emerged in a tasty note, a well-placed chord or a humorous turn in conversation.

“He was a noble, proud, griot of New Orleans piano,” Torkanowsky rightly declares.

This article was originally published in the December 26, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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