New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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1965 - Joe Rotis, traditional jazz trombonist, dies

Born  in 1917, Joe Rotis became nationally famous with the Basin Street Six and his work Sharkey Bonano and Phil Zito.

The Basin Street Six, organized in
1950, included Rotis on trombone, Charlie Duke on drums, Roy Zimmerman on
piano, Bunny Franks on bass, George Girard on trumpet, and Pete Fountain on the

They were a great Dixieland band with an
incredible sound. But by that time Dixieland was out, and bebop was in. The
group was hard up and unemployed until George Girard found a gig for them at
L'Enfant's, a restaurant-bar that used to be on Canal Boulevard. The owner,
however, wanted a dance band that played modern music, so the group reluctantly
agreed. It was a smart decision because WWL television came to air the show, and
the station actually wanted the group to play Dixieland. It was planning to
broadcast live from spots all over the city in an attempt to revive jazz in New
Orleans. This time the group happily agreed, and pretty soon people were coming
from all over the city to hear them play.

The group became wildly popular and in great
demand. They made records, and Down Beat magazine carried a story and a
photograph. Probably the most bizarre event in the life of the Basin Street Six
was when Blaise D'Antoni, president of Standard Fruit Company, offered them a
99-year contract. He liked the music so much that he decided to buy the band!