A Brassy Sound for the Brassy

The South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club gives new life to an old sound
by Tom Fitt
Published September 17, 2009

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band sold millions of records in and around 1917. Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars popularized the improvisational style a decade later and became the band most identified with the sometimes disorganized music.

Dixieland music has had its ups and downs. The big band era of the ‘40s and the resultant be-bop craze of the ‘50s pushed the hard-blowing New Orleans-style jazz sextets and septets away from the musical mainstream.

But Dixieland still exists, and it is heard in the South Bay. The South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club works hard to present authentic music, and also strives to instruct and involve young musicians into the sadly dying musical art form.

“The thing we do is promote traditional New Orleans Dixieland jazz,” said Paul Goldman, drummer, organizer and current president of the club.

The South Bay club is “the second oldest jazz club west of the Mississippi,” offering live music for 47 years, according to Goldman.

“We meet once a month,” he said. Musicians – including all of the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders – join for a 1-5 p.m. session at the Knights of Columbus, 214 Ave. I in Redondo. “It keeps Dixieland alive. The other important thing that we do is a scholarship fund. We give $1,000 a crack to young people who are interested in Dixieland. We provide scholarships for them to take lessons.”

The second-Sunday-of-the-month jams were moved approximately six months ago from the Knights’ hall in Manhattan Beach to the facility in Redondo. “They (Manhattan) just raised our rent too much for us to stay there. Fortunately, we found Redondo. We’ve been in all sorts of locations in the past years,” said Goldman.

As per the state of Dixieland music, Goldman said, “The upside is that we’re doing our best to continue the music. The downside is that Dixieland isn’t really the choice of a 17-year-old, or even a 20-year-old. The average age of our audience is probably 70. They grew up with it.”

“I’m a youngster, I’m only 72. I played when I was in high school, then I didn’t play for almost 48 years. A few years ago, when I retired, I started playing again. I play whenever and wherever I can… There are Dixieland clubs around – about four in L.A… You just have to hunt for them.”
He said crowds at their performances are “fair.”

“They’re diminishing because, unfortunately, the people who like this music are dying. It’s the same thing with the musicians. We have a clarinet player who’s in his 90s, Rob Norris. The numbers of the people in our audience are diminishing. In our club; we average 70-75 people, plus about 25 musicians,” Goldman said.

In this day, there are few places where a family can comfortably listen to live music. Visit the Knights of Columbus hall on second-Sundays. The musicians will play for you, and, even more, they’ll talk to you.

The New Orleans South Bay jazz Club performs for listening and dancing on the second Sunday of each month from 1 to 5 p.m. 214 Ave. I., Redondo Beach. For more information call (310) 397-6616. B