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NEW ORLEANS All-Star SWING with Trumpeter DUKE HEITGER, Clarinetist TIM LAUGHLIN, Percussionist HAL SMITH & Pianist KRIS TOKARSKI

March 30 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm


NEW ORLEANS All-Star SWING with Trumpeter DUKE HEITGER, Clarinetist TIM LAUGHLIN, Percussionist HAL SMITH & Pianist KRIS TOKARSKI

Duke Heitger~

Trumpeter Duke Heitger came to New Orleans in 1991 to join Jacques Gauthe’s Creole Rice Jazz Band and since that time he has become one of the most sought after players on the international scene, performing and recording around the world with a diverse roster of musicians.

Hailing from Toledo, Ohio, Heitger carries on a family tradition in the music business. As a youngster he became fascinated with the sounds embedded in the grooves of his dad’s record collection, discs by Louis Armstrong, Bunny Berrigan, Roy Eldridge, Red Allen, Bobby Hackett, and Bix Beiderbecke. Rather than rebel against that music, he would sit in with his father’s Cake Walkin’ Jass Band, a Toledo institution that had played a weekly engagement at Tony Packo’s Restaurant from 1968 to March 2001. Duke started playing professional jobs at age twelve and was touring while still in his teens. His travels broadened as he played jazz festivals across the country with his father’s band.

Since arriving in New Orleans, Heitger has received international exposure leading to work with bands led by such classic jazz stalwarts as Dan Barrett, Engelbert Wrobel (Germany), Marty Gros, Dick Hyman, John Gill and Banu Gibson. He has made a number of guest appearances on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” with Butch Thompson, and has been featured numerous times on broadcasts by the Jim Cullum Jazz Band live from the riverwalk in San Antonio, TX.

Heitger has been featured at the Hollywood Bowl, at New York’s 92nd St. Y, Lincoln Center’s “Midsummer’s Night Swing” series, and Orchestra Hall in Mineapolis, MN. Internationally, he has toured Europe extensively either as a bandleader or as a guest soloist with regular appearances at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Nairn International Jazz Festival, and the Ascona Jazz Festival. This summer he played the Caesarea Jazz Festival in Israel as a member of the Statesmen of Jazz which also included Warren Vache, John Allred, Howard Alden and Ken Peplowski.

While not on the road, Heitger maintains a busy schedule in New Orleans, leading his own Steamboat Stompers aboard the Natchez Paddlewheeler, a weekly appearance at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, as well as a heavy dose of spot work.

As a sideman Heitger has recorded widely. While well known among jazz enthusiasts through those many recordings, he also made his mark on popular music with his trumpet work on the Squirrel Nut Zippers million selling disc “Hot”, earning him a platinum record.

Heitger has recorded six compact discs under his own name. The first featuring his Steamboat Stompers was recorded for GHB Records; the second, a critically acclaimed Fantasy release “Rhythm is our Business,” features his Swing Band; the Stomp Off release “Prince of Wails” finds Heitger leading a quartet; the 2003 recording “Krazy Kapers” is on Jazzology, and the newest Jazzology release, “What is This Thing Callled Love,” is now available. Hot off the presses is Heitger’s debut on Arbors records, a collaboration with German piano maestro Bernd Lhotzky titled “Doin’ the Voom Voom.”

In March of 2000, Singapore’s Lindy Hop Ensemble premiered “New Heights,” a dance item performed to the music of Duke Heitger. When not playing, Heitger managed to squeeze in a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology and completed his Masters at the University of New Orleans.

Tim Laughlin~

A native of New Orleans, Tim Laughlin fell in love with the sound of the clarinet before he ever held one after hearing a childhood friend practicing his clarinet. He was nine when he received his first horn and shortly after became hooked on jazz after hearing it on the radio.His first job was on a Mardi Gras float when he was only fifteen. After finishing high school he began working around town and eventually joined the musicians union where he would meet and perform with some of his most influential mentors.He has recorded a dozen solo CDs among which “The Isle of Orleans” (2003) is an award-winning collection of Laughlin originals. With this, he was the first and only New Orleans clarinetist to ever write and record an entire album of originals. The success of this CD caught the attention of “Music Minus One” and prompted Laughlin to license the master for the 2004 issue, along with “New Orleans Classics.” The CDs in the two publications include hand-picked musicians with whom students of all ages can play along.As Hurricane Katrina brought her devastation on the Gulf Coast, Laughlin and his band drove overnight to catch their flight and perform at a festival in South America. From there, they watched the aftermath of what was to become the worst natural disaster in US history. Just a week after, the US State Department asked Tim to perform a one month goodwill “thank you” tour in Peru, Mexico and Canada. All had given aid to Katrina evacuees. The October 2005 tour included public concerts, benefits and master classes to elementary, middle and high school student as well as college students. With the students, the band performed and discussed the relevance and importance of their instruments and New Orleans Jazz, Benefits included one in Merida, Mexico, raising over $30,000 to help replace instrument and equipment for the New Orleans Center For the Creative Arts. Recently in 2009, Laughlin along with his good friend Pete Fountain opened the legendary Blue Room at the newly renovated Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, quickly selling out both nights. These days, one can catch Tim performing at some of his favorite clubs in New Orleans like The Palm Court, Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar, Snug Harbor and The Steamboat Natchez. Tim and his wife Juliet live on Royal Street in the French Quarter. They enjoy hosting small parties and jam sessions or salons for friends and visitors, keeping the old New Orleans tradition of “open house.”

Kris Tokarski~

Kris Tokarski was born and raised just outside of New York City, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Growing up in a Hungarian – American household, he was raised on classical music and Hungarian folk music.

Kris attended and completed his bachelor’s degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. While there, he would make the regular pilgrimage back to New York to study at Barry Harris’ workshops.

In 2012, Kris moved to New Orleans to pursue a master’s degree at the University of New Orleans. Currently, he is on the jazz studies faculty at UNO and is thriving as an in demand jazz pianist performing throughout the city. Most recently, Kris recorded an album with an all star cast of New Orleans musicians, which can be purchased on his site.

Hal Smith~

Hal Smith took up drumming in 1963. He listened to classic jazz drummers such as Ben Pollack, Nick Fatool, Wayne Jones, and Fred Higuera in person and later took lessons from Jake Hanna. Hal has also been inspired by the recordings of Dave Tough, Big Sid Catlett, Zutty Singleton, Jo Jones, Vic Berton, Andrew Hillaire, Ray Bauduc, Gene Krupa, George Wettling, Kaiser Marshall, Stan King, Harry Dial, Minor Hall, Wally Bishop, Morey Feld and Johnny Wells. “Chicago Style Jazz” is his favorite type of music, but Hal also enjoys listening to and playing “New Orleans,” “New York” and “Kansas City” styles.

He has played in many well-known bands, such as the Dukes of Dixieland, New Black Eagle Jazz Band, Jim Cullum Jazz Band, Butch Thompson Trio, Banu Gibson and New Orleans Hot Jazz, South Frisco Jazz Band, Chicago Six, Yerba Buena Stompers, Climax Jazz Band, Jonathan Stout’s Campus Five, West End Jazz Band and the Hall Brothers Jazz Band. Hal’s own groups have included the Roadrunners (with Bobby Gordon and Rebecca Kilgore), Hal’s Angels (with Anita Thomas and Katie Cavera), the New El Dorado Jazz Band, Jazz Chihuahuas, Down Home Jazz Band and the California Swing Cats. He has also played blues with James Harman, Nathan James, Ben Hernandez, Billy Watson and Blue Largo, Western Swing with Dave Stuckey and the Hi-Lo Playboys and Rockabilly with the Cash Kings, Gino and the Lone Gunmen, Big Rig Deluxe and his own Hayriders. Hal has made over 200 recordings and has appeared on numerous televisions and radio broadcasts. In February, 2014 he returned to freelancing as a professional musician.




March 30
8:00 pm - 11:00 pm