Hurricane and Jazz in Voodoo Land

30 Jun

Thanks to my son Ajoy, who did all my internal flight bookings in the US, The flight from New York JFK to New Orleans with DELTA AIRLINES was sheer privilege and comfort. My ticket said, 14 June 2019, DELTA 2972, First Class (I), NYC-KENNEDY 4:00pm NEW ORLEANS, LA 6:36pm.

The smart white American hostess asked if I would like a Bourbon with soda, but I emphatically asked for a Gin and Tonic. She looked puzzled but smiled and got me what I asked for. She wouldn’t have understood that my order was in memory of the late Jock Whittaker, who made such an impact on me during my early years (1969-71) in Malayalam Plantations…

After lunch, there was time for a quick nap before the plane landed in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA).

My host who shall remain anonymous… let me invent a name… say “Louis” (From Louisiana and Louis Armstrong) for the purpose of this blog… had sent a WhatsApp message to say that he was caught in traffic and might be slightly late.

I collected my baggage and walked to the Exit area and waited between Pillars 8 and 9.

I was soon picked up and off we drove to what I was told was the French Quarter, which is 17 miles (27 kms) due East from the airport on the Mississippi River.

After parking in a public parking lot, we made our way on foot through the narrow streets of the Old French Quarter, bursting with life.

Soon we were outside Preservation Hall, where jazz music is performed every night, with tickets priced at $20 per head.

It may be because I got my earliest introduction to music through Classical and Church music, that I have never seriously enjoyed “jazz”. I learnt that New Orleans style jazz music is collective improvisation. Classical music pieces have passages called “Cadenza”s which allow the soloist (usually) to improvise and show off his skill with the instrument, within laid down limits. The orchestra is never never allowed to improvise… or all hell would break loose in a philharmonic orchestra which might have a 100 musicians!

Before the Preservation Hall opened, we stood in a row outside. Louis my host got me a drink, which was a lurid red with a cherry and slice of orange on the rim of the plastic long drink ‘glass’.

I later learnt that the “Hurricane” was invented during II World War with rum instead of whisky which was in short supply. The recipe for the drink is given below:

Here is the ‘Traditional Hurricane’ Recipe

2 oz. light rum
2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. passion fruit juice
1 oz. orange juice
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 tablespoon grenadine

Garnish: orange slice and cherry

. Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

When I went to Singapore in December 2018, I made a beeline for the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel where I met my classmate (1983/85) Rohit Bhatnagar who treated me to my first “Singapore Sling”. This drink too is served in a hurricane glass, after Pat O’Brien’s bar in New Orleans. It is called a “Hurricane” glass because it resembles the glass chimney of a hurricane lantern.

Readers will have to forgive my ignorance of jazz music when I merely say that the orchestra consisted of a trombone, trumpet, clarinet, double bass, piano and drums. I counted piano last because it was used more to provide rhythm and could hardly be heard. The piano was played by the only lady and the whole ensemble blended well without any direction or conducting…

Unfortunately for me, photography was not allowed inside Preservation Hall once the concert started. Date and Time stamp on photographs are IST.

By the time the concert was over, I was too knackered to explore the Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo. We walked back to the car careful of dodgy characters and drove about 100 miles (160 kms) to Baton Rouge for the night.

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