SAN FRANCISCO, with its strong artistic tradition, is closely associated with the whole story of jazz. Musicians from NEW ORLEANS played it there before even 1920s (in particular JELLY ROLL MORTON from 1917) and propagated their music there. 

But it is especially at the end of 1930s when the contribution of SAN FRANCISCO was determining. At that time, Californian musicians, avid to break with the style of big bands swing which dominated then, met in an inn, the BIG BEAR, where they tried to resuscitate NEW ORLEANS Jazz. 

Foremost of them, the cornet player / trumpeter LU WATTERS (1911-1989) gave life to this project by creating in 1940 the YERBA BUENA JAZZ BAND which included: LU WATTERS, BOB SCOBEY (tp), TURK MURPHY (tb), ELLIS HORNE or BOB HELM (cl), WALLY ROSE (p), HARRY MORDECAI or RUSS BENNET or CLANCY HAYES (bjo), SQUIRE GIRSBACK or DICK LAMMI (tuba) and BILL DART (drums). 

The originality of this group consisted in its instrumentation: two cornets or trumpets as in KING OLIVER'S CREOLE BAND, tuba and banjo, instruments which had hardly been used since the end of the 20s but also in the choice of the themes (repertoire of KING OLIVER, JELLY ROLL MORTON, LOUIS ARMSTRONG’s HOT FIVE and HOT SEVEN ...), as well as the great attention given to the various musical elements of the pieces as the verses (that the middle jazz of the 30s had tended to forget), modulations, "breaks”, ... and all this by favoring the collective improvisation as in the first decades of the jazz. 

Individually, the musicians of the YERBA BUENA JAZZ BAND were inspired by OLIVER/ARMSTRONG, JOHNNY DODDS, KID ORY ... This return to basics created a big interest in the musical community of SAN FRANCISCO. 

The band settled down in the DAWN CLUB where it got a phenomenal success by playing for dancers until 1942, a moment when the musicians were called up for military service.
The band was reconstituted in 1945 and played until 1950 with some changes in personnel, creating numerous emulators in the United States but also somewhere else in the world (Graeme Bell in Australia …). Lu Watters retired from the musical scene in 1950. It was then Turk Murphy (1915-1987) who took up the torch.

If LU WATTERS had well been the "boss" of the musical adventure of the YERBA BUENA, MURPHY's contribution to the sound, to the impact and to the color of the band had been essential. TURK created his own band in 1949 and became the leader of the “traditional style” (it is to him that we owe this term) in the UNITED STATES with a considerable success during almost forty years.







The SAN FRANCISCO style was illustrated in FRANCE by the WATERGATE 7+1, created in 1974 at the instigation of the tuba MICHEL MARCHETEAU. The band, which played until 2000, consisted of MICHEL PESLIER and MARC RICHARD or MARCEL BORNSTEIN or "Kiki" DESPLATS (cornets or trumpets), DANIEL BARDA (trombone), GEORGES BILLECARD or MARC RICHARD (clarinet), CLAUDE LEFORT or CHRISTIAN AZZI (piano), MICHEL MARCHETEAU (tuba), ALAIN MARCHETEAU (banjo), TEDDY HOCQUEMILLER or FRANCOIS COTIN (drums).

W7+1 played during several years in the “PETIT JOURNAL SAINT-MICHEL” in PARIS for a weekly performance and participated in numerous national and international festivals (BREDA, MARCIAC, EDINBURGH, SACRAMENTO, in 1981, 82 and 83 for the latter). Six CD (on JAZZTRADE) recorded there live for the greater part, testify to the vitality of this band today qualified of "mythical" by jazz magazines. In 2006, the former members of the W7+1 decided to resume the adventure by appointing the trombonist JEAN-MARC TERNOIS, the drummer FRANCIS QUETIER and the trumpeters JEAN-PIERRE RIO (who had already made  replacements in W7+1) and BENOIT MARCHETEAU. This excellent group operated until 2010 and recorded some pieces for JAZZ TRADE.

Today, five experienced musicians, having illustrated during their long careers the music of KING OLIVER, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, SIDNEY BECHET, JELLY ROLL MORTON, CLARENCE WILLIAMS (in particular within “VIEIL ORLEANS ORCHESTRA” of GEORGES BILLECARD with whom they recorded a magnificent "TRIBUTE TO KING OLIVER") decided to revisit TURK MURPHY's musical universe and to give their personal interpretation of his repertoire and his compositions. 

At the instigation of the trombonist JEAN-MARC TERNOIS, the “SAN FRANCISCO JAZZ BAND from PARIS (France)” was created which includes JEAN-MARC TERNOIS (tb), JEAN-PIERRE RIO (tp), GEORGES BILLECARD (cl), MICHEL MARCHETEAU (tba), SANDRIK de DAVRICHEWY (bjo) to whom came to be added the remarkable pianist PIERRE CASENAVE.

This band is the only one in France and, to my knowledge, in Europe completely dedicated to TURK MURPHY's style by resuscitating with such a happiness the music of SAN FRANCISCO. We can hear it in the “PETIT JOURNAL SAINT MICHEL” in Paris, where it is regularly scheduled.






The music of Turk is the one of a poet-truck driver swaggering at the edge of abyssal despairs clinging to the smile of a woman standing at a bar rack or in the applause of a supporting audience. 

Listen to the counterpoint of the trombone, let go the tear which flows on your cheek with Something for Annie and stamp on At A Georgia Camp Meeting and you will have a small overview of the inheritance left by this kind of gentle giant of jazz who knew, as Claude LUTER, to catch in its flight this music born with the XXè century as it was going to fall. 

To play the music of Turk is, at the same time, a simple and complex affair. Simple seemingly only because, under its frustating surface, it shows, for who knows how to listen to it, subtle harmonious bends unexplored until now.

When we linger over what sounds as nobody else in this style, we discover its secret: to choose some good notes to be played at the right time, notes that it is then necessary to hold until the alchemy of the harmony operates. It is simple but rare.
Turk, you make us sweat, but what a happiness when, from time to time, we have the impression to blow as you would have made it with your band at Mac GOON’s or at the RATHSKELLAR.



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