Band Website: http://www.mofess.com
Mo’ Fess literally means more than Fess! The band’s love for Henry Roeland Byrd/Professor Longhair (Fess) and the unique ability of Tom Worrell to emulate Fess’s piano style of music was the inspiration to create a band that utilizes Fess’s sound and goes beyond that with their own unique style of New Orleans musci that need to be heard!
..thus “Mo’ Fess”!!
The members of the band originally consisted of two original members of Fess’s band from the 70’s, guitarist Billy Gregory recently replaced by June Yamagishi and drummer Earl Gordon, also included is saxophonist Lance Ellis, vocalist Leslie Blackshear Smith, bassist David Hyde and keyboard playerTom Worrell. The band will have other former members join them for special events…These other members include Lon Price (sax), Tony Degradi (sax), and Alfred Uganda Roberts (Congas)..who also played with Fess in the 70’s.
The band’s inception is an interesting story of events that propelled it forward. Record producer Carlo Ditta of Orleans record fame and guitarist Bill Gregory collaborated on a live album by Professor Longhair and his band called “Live in Chicago” which was recorded in 1976. The recorded tapes were in Billy’s possession for 40 years when he and Carlo decided to go into the studio and mix it to produce this wonderful album which has Julius Farmer (bass), Big Will Harvey (guitar), Earl Gordon (drums), Billy Gregory (guitar) and Fess (keyboards and vocals) playing on.
Carlo called Earl Gordon who lives in Los Angeles who was also one of the two remaining (living) players besides Billy, to come to New Orleans to help promote the album in April 2016. Carlo and Billy decided to use pianist Tom Worrell a longtime admirer and fan of Fess’s work to play with Earl and Billy in New Orleans. They also added Big Will Harvey’s son Bobby Joe Harvey, Lance Ellis sax player with War and Diane Lotny former back up singer with Dr. John to complete the ensemble that would play at the album inauguration party.
After Earl Gordon heard Tom Worrell’s incredible piano skills and his uncanny ability to emulate Fess’s style including vocals, he was convinced that there was an opportunity to bring Fess’s music to all those who never heard this genius as well as those who did and would now get a chance to hear Fess again. Earl Gordon and Bill Gregory along with Tom then formed Mo’ Fess. They also decided not to be just a tribute band but also integrate their own talents and add to Fess's style and create a unique sound of their own!
Mo’Fess will now embark on it ‘s mission to introduce the New Orleans sound that was so popular back in the 70's to a whole new generation as well as those who remember this incredible music worldwide.