Pete Siers New Orleans Trio Shares Timeless Jazz at Ann Arbor’s Blue LLama Jazz Club

. August 21, 2019.
Photo Credit: Lori Stratton.

Three local jazz musicians traveled back in time to New Orleans Sunday afternoon.

Together, Dave Kosmyna, Ray Heitger and Pete Siers used a piano, clarinet and drums to transport the toe-tappin’, hip-swayin’ rhythms of early 20th century New Orleans-style jazz to an intimate brunch crowd at the Blue LLama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor.

They shared their love of timeless jazz through a musical vessel known as the Pete Siers New Orleans Trio, which performed for the third time at the Blue LLama this year. Siers and Heitger officially brought Kosmyna into the 10-year-old trio after beloved member and Michigan jazz luminary Jim Dapogny passed away in March.

Ray Heitger and Pete Siers

Ray Heitger and Pete Siers. Photo Credit: Lori Stratton. 

“We know a large swat of repertoire, we keep it loose, and we keep it fun. That’s what this project is about, it’s traditional jazz, and Ray loves to sing on it, and there’s no bassist,” said Siers, an Ann Arbor-based jazz drummer who’s performed with Russell Malone, Mulgrew Miller and other jazz legends. “It’s a little bit unusual in terms of what you would normally see at the Blue LLama, but Dave has an exquisite left hand, and he’s playing all the bass notes from the bottom end of that piano.”

The trio kicked off the first of three 45-minute sets with “Careless Love,” a blues tune written by W.C. Handy in 1925, but made famous as a jazz standard by Clarence Williams. The song featured Heitger’s high-pitched clarinet tightly woven with Kosmyna’s pulsating piano and Siers’ tapping cymbals and slow drum rolls. Heitger also provided gruff vocals reminiscent of Louis Armstrong.

Another setlist gem included the 1919 Dixieland-inspired “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody My Jelly Roll,” which featured ragtime-style piano interspersed with bouncy drum taps and singalong clarinet solos. A fun-flavored musical treat to enjoy after a tasty brunch filled with eggs, hash, avocado and chorizo.

Siers, Heitger and Kosmyna also dedicated a tasty, mid-brunch tune from 1926 called “Big Butter and Egg Man” to Louis Goral, executive chef at Blue LLama Jazz Club. It’s a dancy, vivacious number surrounded by harmonious clarinet solos, jammin’ piano fills and dynamic drum parts.

Dave Kosmyna

Dave Kosmyna. Photo Credit: Lori Stratton. 

“It’s just super fun to be around, and the project is developing more and more just because our repertoire is so vast, we just dig a little deeper every time we get to play,” said Siers, who’s taught percussion and jazz drumming for more than 25 years. “We’re not competing for any kind of specific sound range. That music is as funky as anything if you play it right, and you don’t get a chance to hear that a lot these days.”

Thankfully, the trio and Blue LLama Jazz Club keep New Orleans-style jazz alive, fresh and relevant in the ears and minds of Ann Arborites. Kosmyna, Heitger and Siers will transport another batch of timeless NOLA jazz tunes soon at Blue LLama Jazz Club. For details, visit the club’s website.

Trending

Ypsilanti Art Incubator Bridging Artistic Communities

A bridge between EMU art students and established artists  Alexa Dietz understands the value of inspiration, and, with the coming relaunch of The Ypsilanti Arts Incubator, she’s building a channel for it to flow freely into a community with a wealth of creativity.  To grow and thrive  As a sculpture student at EMU in the

“Girls are hot and good”

Q&A: Comic Artist Casey Nowak You may have seen comic artist Casey Nowak’s work around town without realizing it; their client-base and resume are varied and accomplished enough that major outlets and businesses have taken notice. They’ve done work for Cartoon Network, Ann Arbor District Library, BOOM! Studios, and Spry Publishing, among others, some of

Cinema Detroit

Independent theaters prove cinema isn’t dead It seems that every year, especially near awards season, fears concerning the death of cinema and movie theaters become topics of heated debate. The projected death of the movie theater may be premature. Three years ago, Vanity Fair ran an article just before the Academy Awards, pointing out the

Take Flight at A2 Aviary; Feathers Optional

Ann Arbor’s Aerial and Circus Arts Gym For those who have dreamed of running away with the circus— before you pack your bags, visit the Ann Arbor Aviary to perfect your aerial skills. Aspiring trapeze artists needn’t have any prior dance or gymnastics experience to enroll in the continuously-running introductory course. On a Friday evening,