New Orleans Jazz Big & Easy
Mellow sounds of Big Band music and throaty ballads of the WWII years are eminating from the Audio Lab Recording Studio in Waveland MS.(Before Katrina). Recording engineer and Studio owner, Pete Leoni is working with Mandeville composer, James I (Jim) Kotter to lay down the sounds that were so popular in the 40's during the time of Kotter's youth. Kotter is living his dream of recording the music he has spent a lifetime composing. This is his fifth CD made with such accomplished musicians as Jerry Ball, Larry Foyan, Darrell Brown, Jerry Jumonville, Harry Rios, Joe Zapata, Lisa Mills, Laurin Munsch, Pete Leoni and many more plus his new singing sensation, Brandie Spradley. His songs have made the Top Ten on Broadjam in many categories including jazz, ballads, and instrumentals. His lyrics, which stand on their own as works of art, have been published by well known poetry associations, and one, Autumn Love, won the Editor's Choice Award. Kotter, a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps was born in Asheville, NC in 1925 and lived in New Orleans practically all of his life. He acquired his love of music from his mother, an accomplished pianist who filled the family home with all manner of music, instilling a love for the melodies of that era in her son. Many afternoons and Saturdays were spent at operettas or a movie house taking in a musical rather than a sandlot ball game that he so loved to play. By his early teens, Kotter had developed a love of composition and began to write his own melodies and lyrics, encouraged by his mother, who performed his musical efforts for friendsand family. After serving nearly two years in the Armed Services, just after the war, Kotter met his wife Johanna who also served as a WAVE in the Navy. The couple were married soon after and began rearing a family of three boys and two girls. Kotter put his dream of becoming a successful composer aside, but not away and got serious about supporting his family. He worked as a professional mechanical engineer for 33 years, authoring 29 technical publications, receiving 23 U.S. Patents, the USDA Superior Service Award and was included in Who's Who in the Southeast. His love of music and composing never died. In the early 1990's he began pursuing his dream, the success of his music. At that time, Kotter was taking landscaping painting classes as a relaxation effort after quadruple by-pass surgery. Some of the music his instructor would play was 'downright obnoxious'. He knew he had written music that was better. He recorded his first CD at Legend Recording Studio in Pascagoula, MS in1997 and hasn't slowed down since. If he manages to make his way through the 75 or more songs he has already written, don't worry because he is always working on new material. Besides the traditional music that he loves so well, he plans to release his lullaby's and his christian music which now are still in the manuscript stage. He wants to honor his gift that he believes comes from above. Ideas for songs come from many different areas, Kotter says. One of his favorites, Eve'ning on the Mississippi came while working on the Mississippi with the Corps Of Engineers away from his wife for several weeks at a time. The song speaks of his longing for his wife and the loneliness of the river. Another favorite, Southland tells of his love for his southern roots. The rhymes and rhythms of his melodies are soothing and reminiscent of a time gone by, a simpler time. "People were close and this was a united country with no division " said Kotter of earlier days, the days of the second world war...By Bennie Shallbetter, Staff Writer, The Sea Coast Echo.