Jean Kittrell, First Lady of Jazz

Comments from Friends and Fans:
Tex Wyndham
Leader, The Rent Party Revellers, and author, Texas Shout: How Dixieland Jazz Works
March 20, 2005
Having worked with JEAN KITTRELL many times over a longer period than either of us would like to contemplate, I am pleased to say that she is a complete professional and an entertainer who always connects with her audience. Jean's irrepressibly naughty humor and her irresistible high spirits, combined with a well-developed sense of timing and delivery, ensure a delightful experience.
David Ales
Director, Eagles & Ivories Ragtime & Jazz Festival, Muscatine, Iowa

March 31, 2005
It's always a pleasure to have the
JAZZ INCREDIBLES at Eagles & Ivories. Each member is outstanding, and together, they really are incredible, professional musicians. The music was well received by everyone, and the highlight had to be setting off the fire alarm, not once, but twice. We look forward to their next visit.
Roger Krum, Executive Director
Sacramento CA Jazz Jubilee

March 30, 2005
Dear Jean - Thank you for the great job you and the band have done at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee through the years. I know I can count on the
JAZZ INCREDIBLES for an entertaining and professional performance at every set. Therefore, I was very comfortable recommending the band to the organizers of the Lake Tahoe Jazz Festival this year. We are looking forward to you and the band performing at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee again this year, also.

Again, thank you.
Linda Marty Schmitz, President
Madison Jazz Society

May 12, 2005
The Madison Jazz Society is always confident that Jean and her
JAZZ INCREDIBLES Quintet will present a show that is entertaining, thoughtfully planned and full of great music!! We know they are great "crowd pleasers" and that's why we never hesitate to hire them when the opportunity presents itself. They truly are incredible!!
Bob Milne, Director
Frankenmuth MI Ragtime Festival; author,
The Journeyman Piano Player; world-class piano soloist--ragtime, boogie woogie; interviewed and filmed for three days by U.S. Library of Congress in October 2004--the first piano player since Jelly Roll Morton to be interviewed by the LOC.
April 5, 2005

What makes Jean Kittrell's
JAZZ INCREDIBLES so incredible is hard to put into words, but they are. At a recent performance, in Muscatine, Iowa, the INCREDIBLES actually set off the fire alarm: not once, but twice. I was there.I saw this happen and still can't believe it. There was no smoke, for the venue was in a large church, and many of us tried long and hard to figure out the logistics of how or what they did to actually cause a large alarm system to go off. The band itself couldn't figure it out. We finally decided that there could only be one reason: Jean Kittrell is one red hot mama. Rock on Jeannie. It doesn't get any better than you guys. Just show us where the reset button is next time.
Jeff Lange, President
Pekin IL Concert Association
October 12, 2005

Just a note of appreciation from Pekin Concert Association for the fine job you and your quartet
(JAZZ INCREDIBLES) did for us. What a great way to open a concert series.

As a presenter, it is rewarding to have concert goers seek out board members to tell them how much they enjoyed your show--even weeks afterwards. Thanks again--you have our heartiest endorsement!
Cam Miller, member of Band Selection Committee, Sacramento CA Jazz Jubilee
Columnist for
The American Rag
July 27, 2006
Being a jazz jounalist, when I attend a festival I am obligated to check out bands or acts I haven't sampled previously. However, I also feel obligated to re-visit other artists I have not heard recently, other than on recordings, because recordings can be deceptive but nobody can fool anybody at live performances.

However, when it comes to sets involving the
JAZZ INCREDIBLES, I'm there because I enjoy the music, and the words "checking them out" never cross my mind. I have found Jean Kittrell, Red Lehr and others in the Incredibles to be superb musicians who are also entertainers. And for me, that means a lot because I could name several bands made up of marvelous musicians who are deadly dull to watch.

That's something I never have to worry about with the
JAZZ INCREDIBLES simply because when a group of musicians appear to be enjoying what they're doing --- and with Ms. Kittrell and her bodacious sense of humor for a leader, how could fellow musicians not be having fun --- then anyone within earshot of the Incredibles has to be having fun, too.

Moreover, if I were a festival director and looking for a group I knew would come ready to play, the Jazz Incredibles would be high on a very short list
Lynn Zimmer, Musical Director
Lake Ozark Annual Dixieland Jazz Festival
November 7, 2005

Our most recent jazz festival concluded last week with a full house of festival patrons who were generous not only with their words of praise, but also with enthusiasm to match. A big reason for their pleasure at our festival was, clearly, the efforts of
JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN. There is a good reason why we asked Jean back for this, her third appearance, at our festival. The phrase "Back By Popular Demand" seems to sum it up. So do the cheers from an appreciative audience. My personal thanks to Jean Kittrell for another job very well done.
Carol Neumann, MCC, ECC
Cruise Tours Unlimited/JazzSea Cruises
772-597-3086 (fax)
April 15, 2005
When we decided to ask
JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN to join our JazzSea Cruise three years ago, we only knew that we really liked the band and that every venue that they played, regardless of which festival, was filled to overflowing.

We were still surprised when that cruise and the two succeeding cruises sold out in record time. Having analyzed our numbers since then, we find that our "new" passenger bookings have jumped by almost 20%. Pretty amazing when you realize that many of the new fans of JazzSea Cruises are younger than our average aged passenger and are fans of Jean and whichever band she brings. In this new era of dwindling festival attendance we know that Jean and her guys are a definite big draw. Booking this band was definitely a "WIN-WIN" for us!
Maggie Parker, Director
Central Illinois Jazz Festival, Decatur, IL

March 20, 2005
The Juvae Jazz Society of Decatur, Illinois has had a long association with
JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN. They have performed for us at many concerts and in more recent years at the Central Illinois Jazz Festival. The group is very entertaining, while maintaining musical excellence with an extremely large selection of songs in all styles of Jazz. They are indeed a crowd pleaser!
Jeff and Carol Loehr
Co-Directors, Sun Valley Swing'n'Dixie Jazz Jamboree
April 12, 2005

It has been a privilege and pleasure for the Sun Valley Swing'n'Dixie Jazz Jamboree to feature
JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN at our festival each year. Jean's spicy personality, hot piano, and extensive knowledge of Jazz History is a winning combination. The RIVERMEN are talented individually, tight as a group, and a whole lot of fun on top of it all. I've never seen another tuba player like Red Lehr...he can woo the women, and never miss a note! I invite you to join us all the third weekend of October, as we celebrate jazz together in beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho. (877-478-5277 for information).
Dick Pearson
Chairman, Oregon Dixieland Jubilee
March 25, 2005

JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN have been part of Oregon Dixieland Jubilee's line-up many times over our 23 year history.I thoroughly enjoy having them. I can count on a good show, excellent musicians, and a great rapport with the audience.
Judith Harrington, Director and former President
Cedar Basin Dixieland Jazz Festival
Cedar Falls, Iowa
July 18, 2005

For 28 years, the last weekend of June in this part of the Heartland resonates with Dixieland jazz! What a joy to have
JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN return this year for the 5th time. Always popular with our crowds, we never cease to be amazed at how 7 musicians can fill the air so powerfully. Jean and her Rivermen remain true to Dixieland jazz tradition and never grow stale. Singling out any musicians will do injustice to the rest, because they're all at the top of their game; but I must tell you that the addition of Noel Kaletsky on reeds since Jean and the gang were last here is awesome!
Richard Dean, President
Lakeside Festivals, Clear Lake, Iowa
July, 2005

I would recommend
JEAN KITTRELL AND THE ST. LOUIS RIVERMEN as a headliner for any festival in the country. They are great musicians and very easy to work with. Your audience will love them.
Rich J. Johnson, Music Director
Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival
July, 2005
Having JEAN KITTRELL'S RIVERMEN play at your festival is like serving ice cream at a kid's birthday party. You can't lose. Everybody is gonna like it and they'll scream for more. This is a swingin' band that gets jazz fans off their seats and running to buy Jean's cds before their set is finished. On a recent Saturday set at LeClaire Park, Jean's Rivermen sold every cd they had at that venue. And why not? Each musician is a legend. "Red" Lehr, Jim Maihack, Bobby Grimm, Noel Kaletsky, Jack Tartar, Steve Lilley, and their leader, Professor of Literature (and Music), Doctor Jean Kittrell. Folks, it doesn't get any better than this, and Lady Jean with her band of 'Merry Men,' clad in red in lieu of green, are also very nice people to deal with. A virtue that will certainly make festival directors smile.
Jim Vandivier, Vice President, Indianapolis Jazz Club
Indianapolis Jazz Club
June, 2006

On Sunday, June 4, 2006, Indianapolis Jazz Club members were treated to an incredibly entertaining, unique and superbly played concert by Jeannie Kittrell’s latest version of
THE RIVERMEN. It is by far the best edition that she has assembled. Members extend from coast to coast…the perennial favorite, spectacular reedman Noel Kaletsky from Connecticut and the versatile Jim Maihack from California on trombone and vocals. (I have personally seen Jim with various bands playing piano, tuba, or banjo.)

The driving force of the band is the trumpeter, colorful and enthusiastic Steve Lilley. He basically functions as the musical leader of the band, allowing Jeannie to “sit back and relax.”

The chemistry of the band is very apparent; as a result, a large number of spontaneous duets are performed, involving all sorts of combinations (i.e., reed/sousaphone, cornet/banjo, trombone/sousaphone, etc.). Trading fours was frequent and effective. Even the backing of vocals was unique.

Another notable occurrence was the banjo playing of Bobby Grimm. He has always been good, but he has risen to the top of the class with exquisite and difficult solos.

Showmanship was a strong suit, especially the sudden cheerleader-like pyramid formation on one number. But it was the playing that stood out, especially Lilley on “West End Blues” and Kaletsky on “Memories of You.” Both ensembles and solos were outstanding, and vocals by Kittrell and Maihack were excellent. Of course, it would not be Jeannie Kittrell without the
double entendres and her ability to put her whole being into a song. Other band members were nonpareil Red Lehr on sousaphone and the excellent drummer, Jack Tartar.

As always, Jeannie met her high standards, but of all her performances I have heard in the past twenty years, this was the best. There is no question that the Rivermen reside in the top echelon of trad bands today.