The Happy Pals

The Happy Pals


The Happy Pals play New Orleans style party jazz. The whole point is to have a seriously good time! We've been playing around Toronto for decades, we play in New Orleans all the time, and we tour Europe every year. JustJazzMagazine(UK) said: "They’re the real thing and the music is fabulous."


The Happy Pals have been playing New Orleans dancehall jazz in Toronto for over three decades. The band was founded by legendary trumpeter Cliff “Kid” Bastien in the 1970s.

Bastien was a Cockney who discovered the music of New Orleans as a teenager in the 1950s. He soon emigrated to Canada and began spending more and more time in New Orleans learning from the masters. Bastien is now widely considered to have been the foremost disciple of New Orleans trumpet great “Kid Thomas” Valentine, who he first saw playing a neighbourhood dance at the Westwego Louisiana firehall.

Bastien began his long residency at Grossman’s Tavern in Toronto sometime between 1968 and 1971, depending on who you ask. After a brief hiatus, the band was renamed The Happy Pals in the late 1970s. Drummer Chuck Clarke joined in 1982, followed by Patrick Tevlin on tenor saxophone and Roberta Tevlin on trombone in 1983.

One Saturday in February 2003, Bastien didn’t show up for a gig. Some of the musicians went to search him out while the rest of the band started up. Word soon came back: Cliff “Kid” Bastien had died. The band was playing the traditional New Orleans hymn “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” when the phone rang. Musicians flew in from the United States and Europe for Bastien’s funeral, which was conducted in the New Orleans style. The wake took up the whole weekend!

After Bastien’s passing, tenor sax player Patrick Tevlin switched back his first instrument, trumpet, to take on the leadership of The Happy Pals. Alto saxophonist Toby Hughes took over the reeds. Since then Tevlin has been mentoring young musicians in the New Orleans style. Two of them, "Kid" Kotowich on trombone and Tyler Thomson on string bass, both in their early twenties, are now regular members of the Happy Pals.


Listen to sound samples of the Happy Pals CDs at

The Happy Pals with Brian Carrick. New Orleans North, 2007

The Happy Pals - New Orleans Party Orchestra. New Orleans North, 2005

Kid Bastien's Happy Pals - Live at Grossman's. Sunny South Records, 1993

The Canoe Club Sessions Volume One. Sunny South Records, 1989

Kid Bastien's Happy Pals With Norrie Cox. Sunny South Records, 1988

Kid Bastien's Happy Pals. Sunny South Records, 1984

Set List

A typical set will contain a few jazz tunes, a couple of standard or pop songs, maybe a gospel song, a blues or boogie-woogie, perhaps a calypso, and an old rock&roll song or two and the occasion demands. Most of the tunes are up or medium tempo, and perhaps a quarter fo them are slower. Many tunes have vocals, and everybody in the band sings. The number and length of sets varies as needed, with sets ranging up to one or sometimes two hours long.