Pete Fountain, the influential New Orleans clarinetist responsible for creating dozens of jazz standards, will be honored Wednesday, Aug. 17, with a funeral at St. Louis Cathedral. The songwriter and performer passed away Saturday (Aug. 6) after struggling for years with strokes and heart issues. He was 86.
Ceremonies will begin with a public visitation at 9 a.m. at the cathedral, to be followed by words of remembrance at 11:30 a.m, and mass at noon. A second line parade will follow, as previously stated by Fountain's son-in-law Benny Harrell.
Fountain, who overcame respiratory issues as a child, was one of many New Orleans musicians of his generation who discovered new ways of arranging and reinventing classic jazz standards. Fountain stood out for his prolific recorded output and creativity. His vast catalogue-numbering over 100 albums-includes both revolutionary arrangements of old classics and innovative originals, many of which have since become jazz standards. Some of his recordings fell within the genre of Dixieland, while on others he stretched the boundaries of what could be considered jazz, all while maintaining his uniquely fluid style of playing.
In recent years, Fountain rarely performed in public, but his legacy is immutable. The standards he created continue to be widely performed, and he played in person for four sitting US presidents, as well as Pope John Paul II, showcasing his own famously smooth tone and the vibrant, colorful character of New Orleans jazz for the world to witness. Mayor Landrieu expressed his condolences to the family in a statement. “We have lost one of the jazz greats, but his music will live on forever.”