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Jazz Musician Bob French Dies At 74

Bob French was one of the legends of New Orleans' jazz. French was a drummer, singer and bandleader of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. He died Monday at the age 74.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF JAZZ MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's take a moment to remember Bob French, the drummer and singer - and band leader - of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, and a New Orleans jazz original. He was an outspoken DJ on jazz station WWOZ. He hounded elected officials for their response to Hurricane Katrina and was known to say, "In God we trust. All others pay cash."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOB FRENCH: Tell it like I think it is. If it hurts your feelings, I'm sorry. If it's the truth, I don't lie. I just tell them like it is.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Bob French died yesterday at the age of 74, of complications from diabetes. The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band dates back to the earliest days of New Orleans jazz.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

"PAPA" CELESTIN: Hello, everybody. This is "Papa" Celestin, speaking to you from the land of jazz.

INSKEEP: The band was created in 1910, and later led by French's father, Albert "Papa" French. In the 1970s, Bob French took over the reins.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAZZ MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: French says he stuck to his father's principles of charging high prices, dressing sharp, and always being on time. He was fiercely committed to building up the New Orleans jazz scene.

INSKEEP: And he was an inspiration to many of its current stars, like Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis. Both played with him on a tribute album, in 2007.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN")

MONTAGNE: That's the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. New Orleans jazz musician, and band leader, Bob French died yesterday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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