The Music of New Orleans Burlesque Shows of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Ronnie Magri, bandleader and drummer, offers up a thoroughly entertaining CD that brings to life the music that once filled the nightclubs of Bourbon Street, and seeped into the cobblestones of every hot and humid alley, passageway, and courtyard of the Vieux Carre. Included in the CD are beautiful renditions of such classic stripper numbers as "Stormy Weather" and "Mood Indigo," and also a newly-discovered original composition for headliner "Evangeline the Oyster Girl." This nicely-packaged CD includes sexy, exotic dancer photos of yesteryear - Blaze Starr, Evangeline the Oyster Girl, Kalantan, and Linda Brigette among others.
Born in New York, drummer Ronnie Magri is at the forefront of burlesque revival today, after functioning as the premier bandleader, musical director, and drummer of this country's only authentic 1950s style burlesque show.
Magri left New York for New Orleans in 1995 and by 1999 helped form the Shim Shamettes, New Orleans's first burlesque revival troupe, performing at the Shim Sham Club in the French Quarter. He assembled six of the hottest working jazz musicians to form Ronnie Magri and his New Orleans Jazz Band. Besides performing in the burlesque show, Magri performed with smaller version of his band, known as The Port of New Orleans Jazz Band, and won Offbeat magazine's "Best Emerging Traditional Jazz Band" award in 2000. Magri and the Shim Shamettes were featured prominently in the two-hour A&E documentary, It's Burlesque!, which premiered in March 2001. That same year, his band backed some of the top names in new burlesque at the first annual Tease-O-Rama convention and showcase, which was held in New Orleans.
When the Shim Shamettes disbanded in 2002, Magri was instrumental in putting together The Shim Sham Revue only a few months later. The Shim Sham Revue featured a comic emcee, comedienne, singer and the Southern Jezebelles, a six-girl burlesque troupe. The Shim Sham Revue was the first old-style burlesque revival show to perform on a weekly basis in its own venue, the Shim Sham Club, with a live house band.
Also in 2002, Magri released his CD Shim Sham Revue, which featured music of burlesque shows of the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties. He was nominated for two Offbeat awards for "Best Album by a Louisiana Artist" and "Best Emerging Band." In 2003, he was also nominated for a Big Easy award for "Best Traditional Jazz Band.". In 2005, Bravo television licensed several tracks from Shim Sham Revue for Zalman King's reality series, Forty Deuce.
After the closing of the Shim Sham Club, and the opening of One Eyed Jacks in the same Toulouse Street location, Magri was back in 2005 reforming his band as Ronnie Magri & the Bourbon Shakers for a new burlesque show titled Bustout Burlesque.
On stage, Magri and his band have backed the biggest star of burlesque revival today, Dita Von Teese (Playboy Covergirl December 2002) on several occasions as well as performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and French Quarter Festival. Ronnie has also recorded and worked with rock and rollers Little Richard, Joey Ramone and Stiv Bators, The Throbs among others.
As reported in Time, Newsweek, Wall St. Journal, Rolling Stone, Maxim, Playboy, and other media sources, burlesque fever is taking over the country. Ronnie Magri will surely continue to be recognized as the most talented and entertaining bandleader behind every bump and grind that will keep the spirit of burlesque and jazz alive for years to come!
WHAT THE PRESS HAS BEEN SAYING ABOUT RONNIE MAGRI'S CD, SHIM SHAM REVUE!
Modern Drummer - "Magri shuffles, struts, and swings with understatement and slushy propulsion... And his slower beats could corrupt youth." (February 2004)*** Out Of 5
The Mississippi Rag - "One of the pleasures this CD offers is listening closely to how much jazz gets through...the whole band plays it straight - music, rather than satire. There should be some kind of meritorious service metal for such honest workmanship." (April 2004)
Gambit Weekly - "Sex from a different time period resonates throughout drummer Ronnie Magri's Shim Sham Revue... The production and performances are top-notch, capturing an all-star roster of local players... Magri and the band offer a reminder of how vital this music still is, and how it can be played with fresh enthusiasm and style." (Oct. 2002)
Tease! Magazine - "Magri's crew slide smoothly through numerous styles with the ease of seasoned old-time Jazz men, and the result is an album of music that ties together fifteen echoes of the past with the vigor of the 21st century." (2003)
Offbeat Magazine - "The music on the CD is uniformly excellent... Magri and associates swing and they have fun doing it. You may have heard 'Moonglow' or 'Stormy Weather' or 'Mood Indigo' before, but never with such a sweltering, scintillating sense of satiny sleaze." (June 2002)
Cool and Strange Music Magazine - "... stands on its own as an excellent swingin' jazz CD... The recording quality is crisp and clear, but not sterile like you find with many modern recordings. Overall, this is a top-notch release which will appeal to fans of the rhythmic raunch of the Las Vegas Grind series as well as those into more standard jazz n' swing music." (2003)
Atomic Magazine - "With the bawdy-house horns and suggestive rhythms evidenced throughout this collection of classics, the "show" is palpable that I find myself missing it... and that might be this album's only shortcoming... This one's a keeper." (Summer 2002)
Juke Blues - "This is a good jazz band playing 1920's standards, slow blues, and jump numbers to replicate the repertoire that a burlesque show might require...There's some superior musical talent on show." (#54 Winter 2003)
Blue Suede News - "Excellent music, beautiful package." (#64 Fall 2003)
Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society - "It's easy to picture the 'show' in your head listening to this one... And you won't want it to end with just Oyster Girl, but it does - and you still want more!" (May 2003)
The Tuscaloosa News lists "Shim Sham Revue" in the top six on "The A List of Southern Music." (April 2002)
The New Orleans Times Picayune - "Ronnie Magri and the Bourbon Shakers evoke the hot jazz bands that used to back the dancers and Magri's precise timing of brass and percussion to undulating movement, bumps and gyrations is a thing of raunchy beauty and a joy forever." (March 2005)
Where Y'at Magazine - "No question, one of the hottest shows you'll ever see is Ronnie Magri and his New Orleans Jazz Band... Magri recaptures the saucy French Quarter strip-club sound that kept the spirit of Storyville alive long after it closed down. In lesser hands, this project could have come across as corny and lame, but don't you worry! Magri and his boys pull it off with just the right attitude, style and hip-shakin' swing." (July 2002)
The New Orleans Times Picayune - "Magri's band is smokin', with Duke Heitger, an incredible trumpet player with a bold, brassy, solid sound that practically knocks you off your chair... and Magri slamming home those bumps and rim-shots like Gene Krupa in 'Ball of Fire.'" (2002)
Visitor Magazine - "Magri and his seven-piece band visually bring you back to the golden age of striptease." (Sept. 2002)