SHOTClouds drift over YosemiteAndrew kitt...

MY BEST

July 25, 1999

MY BEST SHOT

Clouds drift over Yosemite

Andrew kitt, Baltimore,

While touring Yosemite National Park in April, we came across this view from Stanford Point of clouds gathering over Yosemite Valley. Among the park's other impressive sights were an electric blue stellar's jay and a living giant sequoia in Mariposa Grove.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Jazz from another era

Steve Luckman

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In the midst of all the drinking and noise and debauchery of New Orleans' French Quarter, just a half block off Bourbon Street, stands Preservation Hall, a monument to a different era and way of life, where the Preservation Hall Jazz Band plays nightly, and perhaps the only place in the French Quarter where drinking and smoking are prohibited.

Preservation Hall is one of the country's landmarks that I had always dreamed of visiting someday. To my surprise, it was an extremely old, small, rundown wooden building that looks more like a stop on one of the city's many ghost and voodoo tours than a national monument.

At dusk, however, hundreds of people from all over the world start lining up more than an hour before the 8:30 p.m. start of the first show. After paying $5 each, everyone in the crowd squeezes into a hall the size of an average classroom. The lucky group gets to sit on the floor; behind them are two rows of fans sitting on benches. Next come the devotees standing in the back of the room, crammed in elbow-to-elbow. Lastly, there are the rest -- either standing in the doorways to the hall or packed in the entranceway, which is lined with posters from the band's many international appearances. Finally, the magic begins as the six-piece Preservation Hall Jazz Band appears. For 45 minutes, these wonderful gentlemen transform the night into another time -- an era when Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton ruled New Orleans. They are so close to the audience that the trombone player has to take care not to hit people sitting on the floor with his slide. The banjo player and the clarinetist were both 90 years old, but they still had the spark and flair from a half century before.

Time stood still as they played the old jazz tunes the way they were meant to be played. It felt like 1925 in the French Quarter, with Louis on the trumpet and Jelly Roll on the piano. To watch these remarkable men from just a few feet away, and the same time observe the rapt attention on the faces of the audience was an experience we'll never forget.

Steve Luckman lives in Baltimore.

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Turkey

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"Our favorite vacation -- Turkey! Istanbul with Jojskajsi Palace, gorgeous mosques and minarets, Cappadocia with its outer-space landscape and underground cities. Ephesus. Overnight with villagers. Cruise the stunning Turquoise Coast. This is the crossroads of East and West, with legacies of the Byzantines, Greeks, Romans, early Christians, Crusaders and Ottomans. Memorable!"

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Pub Date: 07/25/99

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