The Easy Street Jazz Band

Live at the Bird of Paradise
View Larger Cover

The Easy Street Jazz Band: Four Decades of Great Dixieland and Traditional Jazz

The Easy Street Jazz Band, a beloved Ann Arbor institution, has been playing traditional jazz and swing since 1970, focusing on music from 1915 to 1945. The band draws their repertoire from their heroes, jazz musicians such as Jelly Roll Morton,Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, andJames P. Johnson, as well as composers of great American popular songs including George Gershwin, J. Fred Coots, Hoagy Carmichael, andWalter Donaldson.

Leader Paul Klinger personifies the band's joyful and care-free style. Whether swinging out a spirited solo on cornet--with or without his "trusty styrofoam coffee cup plunger mute", wailing a poignant Sidney Bechet ballad on soprano sax or singing one of his light-hearted 1920s novelty songs, Klinger always brings to the music a passion and life that is "life-affirming"! The Easy Street Jazz Band's cheerful enthusiasm, esprit de corps and unabashed love of traditional jazz make them a pleasure to hear and a joy to experience.

The band was born in 1970 when Paul Klingercalled together a few of his dixieland musician friends just for jam sessions at his home on Easy Street. But the guys had so much fun jamming on tunes from the 1920s and 1930s that they decided to go public and share their happiness and great sounds with the rest of the world. Up out of basement jam sessions, they started playing parties, clubs and community events. Providing musical mirth at a myriad of venues and settings, the Easy Street Jazz Band became fixture on the Ann Arbor music scene.

Its regular spot, for 10 years beginning in 1988, was Friday afternoons at the Bird of Paradise Jazz Club. They continued this successful Friday Dixieland happy-hour tradition for another 10 years at the famous Firefly Club. And now, after the recent demise of the Firefly Club, the ESJBand their loyal fans have moved to a new home: Tuesdays from 5:30 tlll 8:30 PM at Zal Gaz Grotto on Stadium Boulevard in Ann Arbor. The good times and happy music that the Easy Street Jazz Band deliver with every performance continue.

The ESJB's trademark uniform: bright red shirts, signal "ALERT! GOOD CLEAN FUN AHEAD FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!"

In addition to Paul Klinger, the original 1970Easy Street Band included pianist Ed Metz Sr., drummer Ed Metz Jr., trombonist Al Winters, and clarinetist Pete Ferran. Pianist James Dapogny and guitarist Rod McDonald joined the ensemble shortly thereafter. After all these years, Klinger, Dapogny and McDonald remain active charter members of the ESJB. Today's version of the Easy Street Jazz Band includes string bassist Paul Keller, drummer Pete Siers, trombonist Terry Kimura and clarinetist Mike Jones; all familiar names to jazz lovers throughout Michigan. Recent members of the Michigan Who’s Who Over who have enlivened the ESJB are trombonists Chuck Moss, Dennis Wilson and Chris Smith, drummers Van Hunsberger, Cary Kocher, and Steve Fentrissand vocalist and Firefly Club owner Susan Chastain.

Check out for more information about the Easy Street Jazz Bandand their three LIVE CDs.

This CD is joyful dixieland music at its finest. It is recorded live at the Bird of Paradise Jazz Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the enthusiasm from the band and audience alike is evident. Leader/ cornetist Paul Klinger shines throughout his debut BOPO recording. Check out Pete Siers' washboard on "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" and pianist Jim Dapogny on "St. James Infirmary". This recording captures their excellent musicianship and care-free style.

BOPO Records

Local fans will want to own this CD because it is a rare example of the "Easy Street" band in action.  Other lovers of traditional jazz will enjoy it because of the music.  It is a good example of the kind of jazz being played all too seldom in our area today by a band that should be much better known.

Art Stone
The Jazz Scene

This is exuberant, happy jazz played in a historically correct manner without pedantry. The secret to this kind of playing is the collective spirit, and in this band everyone contributes equally to the proceedings.

Piotr Michalowski
SEMJA Update