Freddie's Story (Part 1 of 5)
After nearly thirty dedicated years touring around the world with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Freddie Lonzo is back in New Orleans, performing regularly and spending more time with his lovely wife, Nancy, in their beautiful home in Holy Cross. Let's dig a little deeper into the life and career of the much loved Mr. Freddie Lonzo.
Freddie was born on August 26, 1950 in the famed New Orleans' Charity Hospital and grew up in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood, as the youngest of three brothers with their parents - his father, a mechanic and his mother, a homemaker. From the earliest of Mr. Lonzo's memories, he recalls the neighborhood was reverberating with music; it seemed like music was behind every door. He recalls being close to the corner of Third and Danneel, playing football with his friends, and he could hear everything from praise music, tambourines and voices in harmony ringing from a sanctified church to vehement jazz. "Where I grew up, it's like, if you take the four corners, you're going to see three bars and a church."
Freddie was about 14 when he had his first interaction with a trombone. His parents had rented a trombone from Werelein's Music Store for the middle brother of the family to play. Freddie's brother wouldn't let him go near the instrument but when his brother went off to college, he seized the opportunity. Telling his parents, "Leave the horn here. Don't send it back to Werlein's. I'll mess around on it, you know."
The holidays were a particularly musical time for Lonzo and his extended family. Growing up, the Lonzo's would head to their cousins house down the street to celebrate Christmas Day. "You'd get skates and you'd get bicycles, but they always had some type of plastic instrument, saxophone or trumpet. Christmas was always, 'We got to learn this instrument, because when we get over there we're going to have to play.'" His uncle and cousin played the saxophone and his other cousin would sing. His aunt had an extensive collection of records and the whole family would sit around the turntable listening to music. It was here that Mr. Lonzo was first introduced to many of his future inspirations including the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Stan Kenton and Lionel Hampton, among others.
Featured photo courtesy of The Preservation Resource Center.