New Orleans Shakers
With the New Orleans Shakers, drummer Torsten Zwingenberger proves once again that he is at home in many varieties of jazz. He founded this band with Thomas l’Etienne in 1976 before turning to other projects after three years. Pieces from the golden age of jazz were on the program, pieces in which emotion and memorable simplicity reigned supreme. A coincidence brought the band back together in 2009 after a 30-year break.
In the sense of the juicy, erotic connotations of early jazz, the mischievous clarinettist Thomas l’Etienne knows that jazz is only authentic when it is played with the right sleazy factor. In this sense, he abandons jazz academism and showing off notes and immerses himself in sensuality full of melodies. There’s a bit of wickedness as the band mixes elements of old New Orleans jazz and various styles from the Caribbean in a skilful crossover. Torsten Zwingenberger shines with his virtuoso drumming technique “Drumming 5.1” for the slightly springy “swing feeling”.
It’s an unusual cast for a New Orleans band, there’s only one horn section instead of three. This is a special challenge to the virtuosity of the band members and an expression of their willingness to experiment. Her curiosity leads her to modern, contemporary interpretations of old jazz traditions. Just as Mardi Gras is experienced and lived anew every year in New Orleans, at the NOS concerts you can feel their rousing zest for life and change, which inspires the audience again and again.
In the summer of 2023, the New Orleans Shakers will release their third CD album entitled “Black Benny” on the Berlin label Blackbird Music.
The New Orleans Shakers are: Thomas l’Etienne (clarinet, saxophone & vocals), Lorenz Boesche (piano & vocals), Franz Blumenthal (double bass), Torsten Zwingenberger (drums/percussion)
Thomas l’Etienne began to teach himself the clarinet in 1971. The saxophone followed a little later. In 1982, Thomas gave up his doctorate in German literature to try his luck as a professional musician in Lillian Boutté’s band. During the many years that Thomas was a member and bandleader of Lillian Boutté and her Music Friends, he performed at almost all major jazz festivals in Europe, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Numerous records and CDs have been recorded. Thomas can be heard on these with, among others, Edward Frank, the brilliant pianist from New Orleans who was his mentor for many years, with Lloyd Lambert, Doctor John, Jeanette Kimball and Humphrey Lyttleton.
Increasingly he was also known as a successful arranger. Many of his numerous compositions have meanwhile been recorded on CDs and also interpreted by other artists. In New Orleans he is highly respected within the musical community. While his clarinet style is still influenced by the Creole school of Barney Bigards, Albert Nicholas or Jimmie Noones, his saxophone playing shows clear influences from Ben Webster, Charlie Parker, Gene Ammons and “Lockjaw” Davies. He was also deeply impressed by the great New Orleans Rhythm & Blues saxophonists Lee Allen and David Lastie, with whom Thomas played frequently. Thomas later discovered his love for the traditional music of Martinique and especially for the Brazilian choro music, which strongly inspired his playing.
Lorenz Boesche, born in Hamburg in 1959, is one of the most experienced stride and ragtime pianists of his age. Particular role models are Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, etc. He is one of the most sought-after pianists of traditional jazz in northern Germany and was a pianist in the well-known Old Merry Tale jazz band for decades.
In the early 1970s, Torsten Zwingenberger laid the foundation for his now almost acrobatic drumming. In the beginning he played washboard to old jazz records and his brother Axel’s boogie piano. In the further course of his career he then used the same energetic way of playing his brushes on the drums. Starting from the “original” jazz, which he penetrated from his roots, Torsten researched almost all subsequent jazz styles. This approach was the prerequisite for the emergence of Torsten’s unmistakable style and his “Drumming 5.1”. The exchange with jazz greats like Buddy Tate, Harry Sweets Edison, Joe Pass or Plas Johnson shaped Torsten’s profile as a drummer in the long term.
Franz Blumenthal did his master’s degree in bass at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart with Prof. Mini Schulz in 2021 and has been a new band member of the New Orleans Shakers since 2022. His playing is characterized by enormous swing and high virtuosity thanks to his phenomenal technique.