Plenty in Storr from Steel City’s Mr Big Easy

Dale Storr

Dale Storr

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HE is ‘Mr New Orleans’. Even though he’s from Sheffield.

But as far as Dale Storr is concerned, he’s always in New Orleans.

For years Storr has been mastering the art of New Orleans-style piano, taking his repertoire across the country.

And now, at last, the keys maestro has realised his dream - to record an album of his solo piano material.

“I’ve always wanted to record a live piano album and I had a gig at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham where I had the chance to play this wonderful grand piano. I took a chance and hired a sound engineer.”

But recording a live grand piano is more complicated than one would think.

“It’s really hard to get the sound right when you are recording live piano and most artists have the mic in the sound box of the piano but the engineer really did his homework and studied how people like Dr John - who’s one of my heroes - recorded.”

The result was placing the microphone away from the piano’s soundbox, giving the notes room to breathe.

“It turned out really well and it’s a really great recording,” says Storr.

“The album’s a 12-track album that plays tribute to all the artists that I love like Jamie T Booker, Professor Longhair and Fats Domino.”

So, with all these nods to New Orleans’ greatest pianists, Storr decided to name the album appropriately.

“It’s simply called New Orleans Piano Live. I know that’s dead straight but it’s exactly what it is.”

But while the album’s title is simplistic, its music is rich, meandering and complicated.

“That’s what’s great about New Orleans music - there are elements of jazz, funk, Latin, African American music, Spanish music, Cuban, blues and even classical in there. It’s a real challenge to play but that’s what makes it so exciting.”

Storr has become one of the UK’s foremost New Orleans-style piano players and has been nominated for his fourth British Blues Award.

“We play all over, there are lots of festivals on the horizon such as the Ealing Jazz Festival, for which we are on the main stage. I have carved out quite a niche and some people have even started calling me ‘Mr New Orleans’.”

Fortunately for Storr, his saxophone-playing wife, Kim, shares his New Orleans passion. “I’m very lucky,” he said. “I don’t feel quite so bad when I’m going on about it all the time.”

Dale Storr’s album, available at dalestorr.com and downloadable at iTunes, will be launched at Shakespeare’s, Gibraltar Street, on Thursday, May 23.