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Second line rides again in Oakland – Blue Bone Express


New Orleans style jazz is often related with the great figures of jazz such as Louis Armstrong or more recently Harry Connick, Jr. However, Oakland-based bandleader jara Queeto and his Blue Bone Express band are reinterpreting the music of New Orleans with a vigor and enthusiasm too often absent.

Blue Bone Express, formed in 2004, is a five-piece band consisting of leader Queeto on trumpet and piano, Jesse Randell on drums, Jason Freidenfelds on trombone, Brandon Stasch on sousaphone and Kevin Brunetti on baroton saxophone. In addition, Brunetti and Queeto are both capable vocalists. The group’s instrumentation is unique in that since Jara Queeto is often playing piano, the group uses a trombone lead- unusual for this type of music, but very satisfying. Coupled with Brunetti’s baritone sax, Blue Bone Express’ sound is quite different from most brass bands of this type.

The group plays several standards such as Bourbon Street ParadeSecond Line (also known asMidnight in Moscow, but mixes in other genres, such as the classic House of the Rising Sun and Queeto has written a number of original compositions as well. Backed by Stasch’s throbbing tuba work and the energetic second line beats emanating from Randell’s drumming, the band maintains a high energy and frequently concludes their sets by coming down from the stage to perform amidst the audience.

Stodgy in any way, shape or form these guys are not. Blue Bone Express is a group of guys who clearly enjoy what they do and they play their brand of jazz with great fluency. They are not copying the work done by the greats who preceded them but rather are creating a style all their own, though their influences are clear. Blue Bone Express is a very enjoyable and thoroughly danceable group that puts on a good show. Highly recommended.

Blue Bone Express plays at Oakland’s Cafe Van Kleef on the first Saturday of each month from approximately 9 PM to midnight together with the dance troupe Hot Pink Feathers. The club is usually packed, so come early and secure a space wher you can see the band and the dancers.

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