ncjb logo

1984 - The Creole Trio

When Dave Gravatt went to New Mexico State University in 1983, he had just moved from St. Louis where he played trombone with Eric Sager's City Lights Jazz Band, The 1919 Jazz Band, The River City Ramblers, and several other great St. Louis-based bands. By 1984, the Creole Trio was playing around the Las Cruces/El Paso area.

creole trio

1984: The original "Creole Trio", 
Las Cruces, New Mexico.
(L-R): Jay Miles, Dave Gravatt,

Ralph Saenz.


creole trio

1985: Workmen take their lunch break and listen

to the original Creole Trio as they play the very

first official concert (complete with hardhats)

in the new Performing Arts Hall at

New Mexico State University.

   
1985 - The Creole Dixieland Jazz Band
 The popularity of the trio grew and so did the opportunities. It wasn't long before several members of El Paso's well known "Sunshine Jazz Band" melded with the Creole Trio and the group became known as "The Creole Dixieland Jazz Band." Playing weekly at the Great American Food & Beverage Company, the band developed a healthy following. The New Mexico version of the Creole Dixieland Jazz Band is still working throughout west Texas and southern New Mexico today. It would be several years before the Missouri verison of the CDJB would be born.

cdjb

 1987: The Creole Dixieland Jazz Band in six-piece form played once a week at The Great American Food and Beverage Company restaurant in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
(L-R): Bob Foskett, Eddie Brittle, Dave Gravatt, Jack Richardson,
George Goedecke, Jim Shearer.
   
1999 - Missouri Version

The Missouri version of the band was formed in the summer of 1999 and played (as a quartet) for some of the Ozark Mountain Ducks baseball games in Ozark, Missouri.

quartet

1999: (L-R): Chuck Mahaffey, Dave Gravatt, Mike Seidner,

Jerry Hoover before an Ozark Mountain Ducks baseball game.

 

On Sunday, September 19, 1999, The Creole Dixieland Quartet debuted at Springfield's own Arris' Pizza and continued every Sunday night (except Easter and the Superbowl) for nearly six years.

   
2000 - Quartet to Six-Piece
After a successful seven months as a quartet, the group added two more musicians and The Creole Dixieland Jazz Band (in six-piece form) was born.

 band at arris

 2000: (L-R): Gary Church (cornet), Lee Smith (piano), Red Ormsbee (trombone),

Jerry Hoover (clarinet), Bob Loffler (tuba), and Dave Gravatt pose

during Mardi Gras 2000 at Arris' Pizza in Springfield, Missouri.

   
2001

Early in 2001, Gary moved to California and was replaced by Lee Smith and Harry joined the band on piano. With that lineup, the band really began to come together and became in demand in and around southwest Missouri. The band recorded its first CD, "Live at Arris' Pizza".

band at arris

   
2002

When Lee and Bob went to work on the Showboat Branson Belle, Billy Hunt (from Oklahoma) stepped in on cornet and Mike Marois (from Arkansas) took over the tuba chair. Both these gentlemen drove two hours (one way) to play with the Creole Band and, for that, we are most grateful. The band cooked along for 18 months with that lineup.

band on car

2002: The band with Jerry Haden posing for the cover of their second CD on Jerry’s pride and joy.

   
2003

On Monday June 9, 2003, the band began playing every Monday night at Joey's Only Seafood Restaurant on West Republic Road in Springfield.


The band played its first major festival, The Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, in June, 2003.

 

In October, 2003, Billy Hunt retired and was replaced by Mark Brueggemann. Mike Marois decided it was time to give up the eight extra hours of driving every week and Brandon Henson accepted the invitation to come in as the Creole Band's first full-time acoustic bass player.

and at joey's

2003: (L-R): Harry Beckett, Dave Gravatt, Brandon Henson, Jerry Hoover, Mark Brueggemann,

and Red Ormsbee jam one at Joeys-Only Seafood Restaurant in Springfield.

   
2004

The band was honored to be invited to the 2004 annual Bix Beiederbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, Iowa. This prestigious jazz festival featuring bands from all over the country was attended by 10,000 fans of traditional jazz. The Creole Band played eight sets to full houses in various venues around Davenport. The guys had a blast!

band at bix

2004: The band at the Bix Fest, July. (L-R): Harry Beckett, Gary Linde, Dave Gravatt,

Mark Brueggemann, Brandon Henson, Red Ormsbee

 
2005

After almost six years, the band's last performance at Arris’ was Sunday, February 27, 2005. The band is proud to have been a key part of the restaurant's tremendous success. Two months later the Creole Band played their final performance at Joey's Only Seafood Restaurant as well. So, while April, 2005 was actually "National Jazz Appreciation Month", the band found itself without a steady, weekly gig for the first time in almost six years.

 

Red Ormsbee retired from the band in June and was replaced by the one and only “Tailgate” Bob Swanson.

 

Using this opportunity for change and a fresh start, the band changed its name to "The New Creole Jazz Band" and continued to play the finest traditional jazz in and around southwest Missouri.

   
2006 - And the band plays on...

 On July 28, 2006, the band was featured again on "Studio Live", a live radio show broadcast on local Missouri State University radio station KSMU. They had played the show a year earlier and had a blast.

CD3 cover


 
2009

The Creole Band once again secured a weekly, Sunday night gig at San Francisco Oven on Republic Road in Springfield.


Young Brandon Henson gracefully withdrew from the group to play in Branson and Harry Beckett decided to put 100% of his efforts into his new Musical Therapy career.


The band was very fortunate that Lee Smith was available to return to the group at the piano chair. We were also very excited to add Kelly O'Bryant to the group on tuba. 

band at SFO

May, 2009: The band begins their run at San Francisco Oven

on Mother's Day, 2009. (L-R): Lee Smith, Mark Brueggemann,

Bob Swanson, Kelly O'Bryant, Jerry Hoover, Dave Gravatt

 

In November, 2009, Kelly’s withdrawal from the band coincided with the December 2009 release of the Creole band's CD, "Live at San Francisco Oven". 

 

CD4 cover

   
2010

2010 brought us a new tuba player, Ron Walker. Ron and Dave had attended Central Missouri State University (now known as the University of Central Missouri) and played in a traditional jazz band together there some 30 years ago and Dave was surprised to find Ron now living in Springfield! The timing was right and Ron joined the crew.

band at lost valley

July, 2010: The band played an Independence Day event at

Lost Valley Lake Resort near Owensville, Missouri. Ron Walker,

Lee Smith, Jerry Hoover, Bob Swanson, Dave Gravatt,

Mark Brueggemann, and Kate, one of the resort’s helpful staff.

   

Go back to the top of this page.

Go back to our home page.

See more photos of the group on our photo page.