Body and Soul, the theme of the 27th annual JazzAscona festival in Switzerland, was enhanced by the presence of thirty New Orleans musicians and entertainers. Second line steppers set the mood for Bourbon Street style burlesque shows and the traditional jazz that is always celebrated at this festival.
ReGeneration Brass Band of New Orleans, The New Orleans Brass Connection from Holland, Ambrosia Brass Band of Italy, and the UK’s Criterion Brass Band converged on the streets of Ascona last weekend, marching simultaneously to open the 10 day festival.
Uncle Lionel Batiste, Grand Marshal, singer and bass drummer with New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band, along with the ladies from the Creole Sweet Tease Burlesque show, led the ReGeneration Brass Band down cobblestone streets to the shores of Lake Maggiore in JazzAscona's opening parade. Creole Sweet Tease, featuring Trixie Minx, brought burlesque to Ascona for the first time this year, in a series of shows backed by The Creole Syncopators (Gerald French, Tom Fischer, Steve Pistorius, and Kerry Lewis), featuring singer Jayna Morgan.
Trombone player Rick Trolsen was a special guest of the New Orleans Brass Connection. On day three of the festival, he marched in another second line with Grand Marshal Uncle Lionel and the girls from the burlesque show, leading the crowd to Nicolas Pythoud’s “A Lens On New Orleans” photo exhibit at La Tana dell’Orso, while ReGeneration led a kids’ parade from Chiesa Papio through the town.
Again this year, JazzAscona continued to honor the music and culture of New Orleans by awarding Uncle Lionel Batiste the prestigious Ascona Jazz Award, in recognition of his status as “an extraordinary musician…, ubiquitous on the scene, a legend to young musicians, and a true connection to the music’s tradition and roots”. Previous Crescent City recipients of this award include Lillian Boutte, Father Jerome LeDoux, Donald Harrison, Herlin Riley, and Shannon Powell.