Philly-area jazz ensemble The Hoppin John Orchestra has been doing its thing for nearly 20 years now, and it has a songbook to prove it. With over 200 selections in its repertoire – amassed by band leader Michael Hood since founding the ten-piece in 1996 – the HJO touches on vintage standards and original compositions in the spirit of Southern ragtime and New Orleans brass band music. Which means this time of year is the band’s busy season.
Every February, the band plays a Mardi Gras throwdown at Center City haunt Chris Jazz Cafe, and as you can see from the photographs of them in the studio for their Key Session, they don’t do it without a bit of pageantry. Plastic beads, brightly-colored clothes, sashes and decorative umbrellas, Hood’s polka dot button down number…they’re serious musicians, make no mistake, but their presentation doesn’t take itself overly seriously.
In The Hoppin’ John Orchestra’s Key Session you’ll hear two of Hood’s originals – the infectious “Yer Dang Skippy” and the rambling “King Cake,” an ode to a New Orleans Fat Tuesday delicacy. You’ll also hear two cover songs – a rendition of Irma Thomas’ “Ruler of My Heart” and Mumbo Gumbo’s “Fizz,” both sung by Chelsea Dehner.
Check it all out below, grab a download at Soundcloud and get tickets and more information about The Hoppin John Orchestra’s Mardi Gras party next Tuesday, February 17th, at the Chris’ Jazz Cafe website.
Chris' Jazz Cafe, hoppin john orchestra, The Key Studio Sessions