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20 April 2018

Tour Director Sandy Burnett has been in the American Deep South, taking in the sights and Jazz and Blues sounds of New Orleans and Memphis.

Jazz and blues in America's Deep South

In 2019 ACE Cultural Tours will be offering its first exploration of jazz and blues to its musical programme. We follow the Mississippi river from New Orleans to Memphis, discovering along the way the evolution of a rich variety of musical genres and the pioneering musicians who infleunced the progression of modern music and in doing so the making of modern America too.

Music making has remained an integral part of life to people in this corner of the United States. The diversity of musical and social backgrounds in New Orleans provided the basis for the creation of jazz music in the late 19th century.


The music tradition is very much alive here, and it’s more than just a museum piece

Sandy Burnett


As this new music travelled up the Mississippi river, more artists contributed to the melting pot and the region soon witnessed the birth of many other recognised genres, from rhythm and blues to country and western.


Sandy Burnett writes:

“In terms of the history of jazz, New Orleans is where it all began. And a hundred years on it’s still a great city to visit.

Perhaps the first thing that struck me is that there is live music everywhere: entertaining drinkers in little bars, accompanying meals in elegant restaurants, and playing a central part in street parades and funeral processions.

Sandy with Pat Thomas, son of legendary blues man James "Son" Thomas

The music tradition is very much alive here, and it’s more than just a museum piece – it’s fascinating to hear how jazz has evolved while staying true to its roots. Post Katrina, NOLA has bounced back with a vengeance – the French Quarter where we’ll be staying is a wonderful part of the city to wander round.

And for many of us, the fantastic food on offer will be just as memorable as the gigs.

As for Memphis, it’s a city with a fascinating story to tell.

It’s the city that Elvis called home, and a visit to Graceland will be a key aspect of our tour.

Stax Records, the label which recorded both black and white musicians throughout the 1960s, is now a carefully-curated museum.

And as the city which witnessed the murder of Martin Luther King fifty years ago, it’s also the site of the Civil Rights Museum, a visit to which will be both sombre and unmissable.

And to stretch out and unwind between visits, we’ll be able to relax in our accommodation at the famous Peabody Hotel, which is the place to stay in Memphis.

You’ll find lots of duck at the Peabody, but not ever on the menu. It’s a long story – I’ll tell you when we get there…”


As a bassist Sandy has performed, toured and recorded with many of the finest musicians, artists and ensembles from Britain and beyond.

He is the regular bass player for Blue Harlem, the Hep Chaps, the Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra and for the American singer/songwriter Gerard Kenny; he has a Sunday residency at Le Caprice in London’s West End, appears regularly at Ronnie Scott’s, and in 2016 his playing was featured in the National Theatre’s acclaimed revival of August Wilson’s play based around black American music-making in the 1920s, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

One of New Orleans coveted jazz venues

To read more about the tour, or to book your place, click here.