Manuel Perez, date unknown

 
 
 

    The Quorum

Opened in 1963 at 611 Esplanade in the Marigny, the Quorum coffee house was the only integrated locale in New Orleans. A haven for open-minded individuals who supported freedom of speech and free association, the Quorom was a successful model for multicultural exchange amid the politically and racially charged atmosphere of the 1960s.  It quickly became a gathering spot for artists, writers, actors--from the “Free Southern Theater”-- and musicians including country blues singer Babe Stovall and composer Jerry Jeff Walker. As an integrated established, The Quorum was a frequent target of segregationist harassment. In 1964 police raided The Quorum taking 73 people to jail and accusing them of things like "playing guitars out of tune."

 

 

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

The New Quorum (TNQ) Artist Residency represents the fulfillment of a long-held dream for Executive Director and Founder Gianna Chachere. A New Orleans native, Chachere worked for 20 years in programming, management, and fundraising for non-profit arts organizations. After witnessing first-hand how the resilient spirit of New Orleans musicians played a central role in resurrecting the city after Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing floods, Chachere resolved to found an artist residency that would serve those musicians in a meaningful way. Taking its name from The Quorum, the legendary 1960s New Orleans coffee house/artist collective, TNQ constitutes a deeply personal endeavor for Chachere. Her great grandfather was Manuel Perez, the legendary New Orleans bandleader and cornet player who became one of the architects of jazz at the dawn of the 20th century. Perez had moved from New Orleans to Chicago during the 1920s to make ends meet, but returned home after finding he could not live without his family — or his city. With its multi-faceted professional development program and its emphasis on cultural exchange among local and visiting musicians, TNQ seeks to provide crucial support for New Orleans artists so they can thrive without leaving the city that holds them dear.

In 2012, Chachere purchased the historic house (built in 1911) on New Orleans’ Esplanade Avenue that would serve as home for TNQ. Informal residency activities began in January 2013 when Chachere hosted Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, authors of Unfathomable City:  A New Orleans Atlas. Hamid Drake, one of the top percussionists in jazz and experimental music, accepted a residency invitation at TNQ in November 2013. During his stay, Drake participated in the New Orleans NOiseFest and performed with saxophonist Rob Wagner at a TNQ house concert. November 2013 also brought Parisian author, music historian, and jazz musician Dan Vernhettes and Toulouse, France jazz band to New Orleans Fiesta for a TNQ residency. Vernhettes is co-author of Jazz Puzzles, Volume 1, which includes a chapter devoted to the life and art of Manuel Perez. TNQ acquired its 501(c)(3) status in June 2015.

TNQ’s monthly public Salon events began in October 2015, and the first full artist residency launched in January 2016 bringing five international artists to New Orleans for a month of direct engagement with our city. Please periodically check the website for ongoing workshops/performances.

Drawing by Jeffrey Bowers, 2013

Drawing by Jeffrey Bowers, 2013