Harold Battiste. Josh Jackson
Did you know the first independent music recording company owned and operated by African-American musicians started in New Orleans?
Saxophonist and producer Harold Battiste created All For One (AFO) Records in 1961. It folded in two years time, but not before AFO had unleashed a million-seller, "I Know," from singer Barbara George. It also served as a platform for modern jazz musicians in New Orleans: pianist Ellis Marsalis, drummers James Black and Ed Blackwell, clarinetist Alvin Batiste and trumpeter Melvin Lastie all contributed to the continuing success of modern jazz in the city.
Pianist Jesse McBride is a graduate of Houston's High School for Performing and Visual Arts, a place that has nurtured a generous share of today's music talent (Beyonce and Robert Glasper, a McBride classmate, are just the tip of the iceberg). After Hurricane Katrina, McBride relocated to New York — briefly. He quickly returned to the New Orleans music scene where he'd studied with Battiste, Marsalis, and a host of other great performer-educators. McBride has now earned a similar hyphenation as both teacher and mentor. He has also assumed the mantle of carrying forward the legacy of modern jazz and AFO in New Orleans.
At the WWOZ Jazz Tent, his sextet included trumpet, saxophone, vibes and singer Johnaye Kendrick ahead of a rhythm section led by McBride. Harold Battiste sat upright, sax in hand, urging them on with two simple acts — being present and listening.
The Historic New Orleans Collection contains in its archive the Harold Battiste's papers. They are also publishing Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Blues Man, by Harold Battiste Jr. with Karen Celestan, due June 2010, according to their website. Recommended from here.