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Southwest Daily News - Sulphur, LA
  • Local jazz band brings hundred year old art form to local stage

  • If you go 150 miles to the east, you can experience jazz music where it all began: New Orleans. If you go 150 miles to the west, Houston's cosmopolitan atmosphere allows music fans to immerse themselves in the myriad ways of jazz.

    However, in between those two places the opportunity to listen to one of the 20th century's best musical inventions is few and far between.


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  • If you go 150 miles to the east, you can experience jazz music where it all began: New Orleans. If you go 150 miles to the west, Houston's cosmopolitan atmosphere allows music fans to immerse themselves in the myriad ways of jazz.
    However, in between those two places the opportunity to listen to one of the 20th century's best musical inventions is few and far between.
    Steve DuFrene and his band hopes to change that. DuFrene's band, the Street Side Jazz Band, plays jazz in a hundred different ways.
    "We're really trying to play a variety. There is a hundred years worth of material," DuFrene said.
    Their next gig is at the Cigar Club in Lake Charles.
    DuFrene's goal is to bring jazz into the Lake Area music scene in a way that rock n' roll, zydeco and Cajun music enjoy.
    "As a band, we've discussed this a lot," DuFrene said.
    "I think one thing that is important to us is that 150 miles east and west of us is a lot of jazz. In between, there isn't. It is important for us to draw people in. There's a lot of emphasis on rock and roll, Cajun and zydeco, and I think it's important for people to understand that this music is here too, and it is part of our culture and heritage."
    The Street Side Jazz Band has only existed for the past eight or nine months.
    "We just started getting together and doing some tunes," DuFrene said. "A couple of our first gigs were out on the sidewalk, and that's how we came up with our theme."
    DuFrene has been playing music professionally for the past 20 years, since he was 16. Today, the 36 year old joins full-time McNeese music major (and tenor saxophone player) William Christian and lifelong guitar player Don Moriarty on stage around the Lake Area.
    He knows that sometimes getting people into jazz is an uphill battle.
    "There are so many people that have a misconception about what jazz is. They go listen to a band in New Orleans, and to them that's what jazz is," DuFrene said.
    "We try to play popular music. Back in the '30s, jazz then was like how rock and roll is today."
    DuFrene and his group try to play familiar tunes, and then branch out into things that sound familiar, but have a twist to them.
    "We like to play a style of song that we can really stretch out on, where we take a familiar song and play solos with it," he said.
    Jazz is a kind of umbrella term, the musician explained, so they range a lot in how they play.
    Page 2 of 2 - "If you go to a grunge concert, you're going to hear grunge. If you go to a rock and roll concert, you hear rock and roll. What we're playing is fast, slow, ballads, Latin, stuff you can dance to, a whole range," DuFrene said.
    If you go:
    The Street Side Jazz Band will be playing at the Lake Charles Cigar Club, 1700 East Prien Lake Road, on December 16 at 10 p.m. For more information on the Street Side Jazz Band, visit their Facebook page (search for Street Side Jazz Band) or communicate via email at streetsidejazz@yahoo.com

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