Don’t drain this swamp.

The three-concert Hot Jazz/Cool Garden series will kick off in scorching style with a heavy-hitting New Orleans band at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona on Tuesday, July 4, at 2 p.m. Larger-than-life bandleader James Williams and the Swamp Donkeys will mix traditional jazz with their fresh notes before red beans and rice (Satchmo’s favorite meal) and sweet tea are served.

A vocalist and brass instrumentalist who specializes in trumpet and tuba, Williams says he draws most of his musical inspiration from Armstrong. In fact, his soulful, sweet voice actually sounds a bit like that of the legendary trumpeter and cornetist. For the past four years, the Swamp Donkeys and he have been playing throughout the United States and Europe, including gigs at the French Quarter Fest, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Fest, and Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain.

The series will continue with the Anderson Brothers on Saturday, July 22, at 2 p.m. Peter and Will Anderson are virtuoso reed players and identical twin brothers. The Juliard alumni are best known for their unique renditions of upbeat swing-to-bop jazz with combinations on clarinet and saxophone (alto and tenor). They have performed in more than 35 states and toured Japan.

Brianna Thomas will take the stage on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m. Sometimes sassy while at other times coy, Thomas (below photo) is known for her multi-tonal voice that can communicate a wide array of moods and feelings. The daughter of drummer and vocalist Charlie “CJ” Thomas, she’s been performing since childhood, even being honored as “High School Jazz Vocalist of the Year” by Down Beat magazine in 2001.

Individual tickets cost $20. An all-concert package is $50. (The July 4 luncheon of rice and beans and sweet tea is included in the respective prices.)

Now in its eleventh year, Hot Jazz/Cool Garden honors Armstrong’s legacy by presenting top-notch live acts of the music he loved in the Japanese-inspired outdoor garden that he created at the Corona house where he lived with his fourth wife, Lucille, from 1943 until his death in 1971.

Images courtesy of Louis Armstrong House Museum


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