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Trio Ilos: from left, Dom Pipkin (keyboard), Mao Yamada (bass) and Roy Pepper (drums).

Ikos Trio: from left, Dom Pipkin (keyboard), Mao Yamada (bass) and Roy Pepper (drums).

Dom Pipkin plays the New Orleans Blues

It was a hot and sweaty summer night when jazz musician and enthusiast Lynda Murray went to see the Ikos Trio with Dom Pipkin at Kino-Teatr. It turned out to be a memorable occasion, as she reports.

I went along to the Dom Pipkin concert in the beautiful Kino-Teatr with a lot of curiosity about New Orleans Blues, a genre that I know little about. After a few numbers I got the groove.

New Orleans Blues developed in the 1950-60s and is nearly always upbeat in the tempo and positive with the lyrics, it is also heavily influenced by rock and roll grooves, syncopation, stop time and Caribbean music. Like salsa which is a mix of Cuban Son and American jazz, it is a fusion style and a genre in its own right.

I’m reminded of local bands Buick Six, the late Johnny Panic and Cajun Dawgs, other bands whose choice of repertoire is influenced by this genre.

Dom was playing with a really good rhythm section: Mao Yamada on electric and double bass and Roy Pepper on drums. The first set was slick, moving quickly between numbers and interspersed with some solo piano, at which Dom excelled.

We were also in the middle of the heat wave, and it was very, very hot in the theatre and, by the end of a long first set, airless. Some electric fans were brought in for the second set which helped to move the air around and cool the room down a little.

A band to dance to

The band should have gone to the next level feeding off the energy of the audience. This is a band to dance to, but most people stayed in their seats swaying to the rhythms.

I couldn’t help thinking that if this band was playing a Friday night in the Old Town, the place would be heaving and pulsating with people thoroughly immersing themselves in this music by dancing. The band would feed off this energy and it would help take the musicians to the next level in their playing.

Hastings is sorely lacking in smaller venues that have basic equipment like a piano and PA and are versatile enough to have a sit-down or standing audience or both, a bar and box office. The Kino is great but it is primarily a concert/film venue and some bands just need all the audience to get up and dance.

Dom Pipkin is influenced by some of the great exponents of the solo piano style in this genre, such as Jelly Roll Morton, James Booker, Dr John and Professor Longhair, and he regularly makes trips to New Orleans to immerse himself in the history, the people and the clubs that keep this style of music alive.

Hero James Booker

One great piano player of this genre is James Booker, Dom’s hero –there are some tracks of his and Dom’s on YouTube which are worth checking out. Booker was an innovator, performer, singer, drug addict and brilliant pianist. There is also a great interview with Harry Connick Jr,  the actor, jazz singer and pianist, talking about and demonstrating some of the unique aspects of Booker’s style.

Dom himself told us a famous quote by Dr John: “James Booker is a black gay junkie one-eyed piano genius that New Orleans ever produced.” That’s exactly what he said!

Dom gave me a copy of his solo album Smokin’ Boogie – The Live Bootleg Sessions. If you ever get the chance to buy a copy, get it, you will not be disappointed.

Some notable tracks which he also played with Ikos on the night were Louisana, Farewell to Storyville and James Booker’s Put Out The Light reminiscent of Rag Time piano style. On Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? his voice had echoes of Jamie Cullum.

The Landlord Blues, an original solo piano piece, shows off Dom’s total command of this style of music. The album finishes with a Beethovanesque intro into I’ll Be Seeing You, on which his playing is dramatic, bold and a wonderful original trip down memory lane.

This concert made for a rare hot early summer evening in a lovely theatre with some great playing of a style of music that will most probably live on for ever.

Check out Dom’s website for more info  and Kino-Teatr for more music events.

Posted 15:57 Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017 In: Music & Sound

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