On Saturday morning, February 27, 2010, the New Orleans traditional jazz community laid to rest one of the icons, the saxophonist Ernest “Doc” Watson. The funeral was held at St. Katherine Drexel Catholic Church on Louisiana Avenue in uptown New Orleans. Over 25 musicians came out to pay respect to the legendary musician who performed with the Young Tuxedo and Olympia Brass Bands as well as with the Preservation Hall band over the course of his long career. Most of the musicians were inside the church when the service ended. They paraded outside preceeding the casket of the deceased.
The procession heads up the aisle led by two Grand Marshals
William Smith, trumpet and Roger Lewis, baritone saxophone, lead the band out of the church.
Dr. Michael White, clarinet, and Julius “Jap” McKee, sousaphone, were among the many musicians paying respect to “Doc.”
As the up tempo second line portion of the jazz funeral got under way both musicians and mourners had their exuberance on display for a life well lived.
After several blocks of spirited blowing, drumming and dancing, the music slowed and the crowded paused for the ritual of “cutting loose of the body.” The musicians split in half as the funeral cortege passed between the assembled.
The final song of the funeral was the mournful, “Lead Me Savior,” as all in attendance contemplated our earthly bonds. Here trumpeters Wendell Brunious and Greggory Stafford hit just the right notes.
All photos by Kim Welsh