Louis Prima's Sicilian-New Orleans roots on display at Jazz Museum exhibit
You can see the imprint of New Orleans, his hometown, in Louis Prima’s irrepressible stage performances. Often, he and his band jumped around and hammed it up so exuberantly that it was hard for people to see the level of his true musicianship. “Play pretty for the people,” he’d say.
But because of Prima’s success elsewhere, namely New York and Las Vegas, the swinging trumpeter and bandleader isn’t immediately identified as one of New Orleans’ musical children.
“Louis Prima should be up there with Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, and Lil Wayne,” said David Kunian, music curator at the New Orleans Jazz Museum. “But I think he gets left out of the picture because most of his success came elsewhere.”