Jazz community remembers Lionel Ferbos - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Jazz community remembers Lionel Ferbos

Outside the French Quarter's Palm Court Jazz Café, Lionel Ferbos's pictures grace the windows. Inside, his music graced the stage.

"Played wonderfully, sang wonderfully, " said café owner and close friend Nina Buck. "He was always on time, always a great player, always here."

Ferbos passed away early Saturday morning in his New Orleans home. He was an icon of New Orleans' traditional jazz scene. Ferbos was known as the city's oldest jazz musician and garnered international attention for playing well into his golden years. 

He played every Saturday at the Palm Court Jazz Café until his health kept him away.

"He didn't want to stop playing," said Buck. "Even when he was weaker, he didn't want to give it up. He would come in and sing."

"He never sought to be a star, he was a part-time musician," said Keith Spera, a music writer with Nola.com | The Times-Picayune. "He was a tinsmith during the day, but his dedication to the craft was impeccable."

That dedication would earn the respect of greats, like Pete Fountain.

"It's a shame," Fountain told FOX8 over the phone. "He was a great guy, wonderful." 

Ferbos's dedication also served as inspiration to a next generation of musicians.

"He practiced everyday," said Spera. "Past his 100 birthday, he was still practicing all the time. That's how dedicated he was to the music. That, more than anything, was an example to the younger players."

Lionel Ferbos's passing comes just days after his 103rd birthday. For some, it marks the end of an era.

"He was the last living link to the dawn of the jazz era. He was a guy whose perception was formed by primary sources and that definitely informed his playing," said Spera.

And in the French Quarter, a jazz café will be a little quieter on weekends.

"I'll miss my Saturday nights. I miss when he's here. It meant so much to have so many people here to see him," said Buck.

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