Ulysses Jasz
Gig Seeker Pro

Ulysses Jasz

Santa Barbara, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | INDIE

Santa Barbara, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Jazz Classical




"Ulysses S. Jasz (we no longer use the S.)"

Sound description: Bringing the feel-good tunes of Dixieland to The James Joyce every Saturday night since 1998, the group’s fans range from college kids to yuppies to retirees, all of whom are attracted to the band’s talented improvisation and the joy with which they bang that banjo. -The Indy

Ulysses S. Jasz didn’t start out as a band. It was a weekly jam session open to traditional jazz revivalist players. Tommy Byrne, the jazz-loving proprietor of the popular Irish pub in downtown Santa Barbara, made the corner of his hostelry available. A honky-tonk was obtained and a regular band evolved, named in honour of J. Joyce’s notorious novel, Ulysses. Jasz is a historical spelling of the name for America’s classical music.

This successful gig has persisted for over five years and now has the distinction of being one of only two venues in Southern California presenting this essential roots music on a weekly basis. - Santa Barbara Independent

"Ulysses S. Jasz at the James Joyce "Rejoicing in Dixieland""

On an uncomfortably hot Wednesday afternoon last week at a funky downtown Santa Barbara coffee shop, Alex Marshall left me thoroughly confused. Marshall claims to be the leader of the Santa Barbara-based jazz outfit Ulysses S. Jasz, but in the liner notes for the band’s 2004 release, Too Late for Valentine, Marshall’s name is found only under the “graphics” heading. Marshall quickly confirmed he is truly a member of the band, but like all serious jazz musicians, he created a separate moniker for the stage: Frank Franks. “I chose ‘Frank Franks’ because it’s onomatopoeia,” he said. “The name sounds like the rhythms my banjo makes. Plus, it’s a tradition for jazz artists to have nicknames-just look at Duke Ellington, or Dizzy Gillespie, or Satchmo : the list goes on and on.”

Aside from an inventive nickname, Marshall shares a few other things with the jazz greats, chief among them improvisational talent and a passion for jazz and its history. An Edinburgh, Scotland, native, Marshall began experimenting with guitar in his late teens, but it was not until his stint at a Scottish art college that he became enamored with the early jazz sounds of the 1920s and “graduated to the banjo.” Marshall-a soft-spoken and unassuming man in his seventies whose voice retains subtle remnants of a Scots brogue-described the Edinburgh jazz scene of his college years as “healthy,” but said he longed to experience jazz in its home country, and thus came to the U.S. via New York City in 1979. After traveling the country for a few months, Marshall eventually stumbled on Santa Barbara and decided he wasn’t going anywhere. “I was living in L.A. at the time, and one weekend, a friend invited me to visit him in Santa Barbara,” he recalled. “I was only supposed to come up here for the weekend, but I loved it so much that I

Ulysses Jasz
Where: James Joyce, 513 State St., Santa Barbara, CA
Cost: Free
Age limit: 21+
Full event details

Nearly three decades later, the Santa Barbara jazz scene is benefiting greatly from that decision. Marshall, along with bandmates Bill Dods and Robin Frost, formed Ulysses S. Jasz in 1998 as a weekly Saturday night jam session at The James Joyce, a relentlessly popular Irish pub in the heart of State Street run by jazz aficionado Tommy Byrne. It didn’t take long for the band, the name of which is a nod to the landmark James Joyce novel Ulysses, to amass a legion of followers and secure a weekly Saturday night residency.

Ulysses’s style is primarily Dixieland. As is traditional among Dixieland groups, Ulysses rarely writes its own material and instead improvises on an expansive collection of standards tapped from what Marshall calls the “great American jazz songbook.” These classics include “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” The band is attracted to Dixieland “because there’s a joyful quality about it,” Marshall explained. “There’s no moodiness, it is good dance music, and it’s instantly accessible to all different kinds of people, much more so than modern jazz.” Indeed, the band’s weekly performances have consistently drawn an enormously diverse crowd of traditional jazz fans ranging from college students to yuppies to retirees. In Marshall’s opinion, with such an eclectic following comes a duty for the band to preserve an American art form that has largely been ignored by both the media and general populace. “I think it’s vital that we propagate this music and make it heard. These songs are the spirit of New Orleans and have such a rich heritage. I really do feel a sense of responsibility toward them,” Marshall said.

Yet, even with its staunch dedication to the Dixieland sound, Ulysses is not afraid to venture into new directions. With the imminent departure of two of the group’s longtime mainstays-cornet player Dick Miller and singer/trombonist/pianist Bill Dods-and the equally imminent arrival of trombonist Larry Jones and pianist John Slais to replace them, the band will likely reshape its sound to cater to the more swing-era sensibilities of its new members. “Moving toward a swing sound is the next logical step, at least chronologically speaking,” Marshall said.

However, just because the group may already be planning its next chapter should not imply the exit of Miller and Dods is considered just a mere shuffle in the lineup. Marshall maintains a deep loyalty and respect for his bandmates, and when asked to assess the band’s impact on his life during the past nine years, the typically poised Scotsman struggled to articulate the depth of his emotions. Eventually, he simply stated: “Leading this band is my life’s ambition realized.”


Ulysses S. Jasz will host a free Grand Farewell Party to say goodbye to two of its departing members on Saturday, July 28, at The James Joyce at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 962-2688. - Santa Barbara Independent

"5 Questions with ... Alex Marshall of Ulysses S. Jasz"

You're walking down State Street on a Saturday night, snaking your way through the bar-hopping mob, when suddenly you hear it: that old-timey riff of a wailing clarinet, breathy brass stomping and a drum kit that won't quit.

It seems like yesterday when what was old was made new again by an eclectic group of local musicians united by their love for traditional New Orleans jazz. During open jam sessions at the James Joyce Pub, the roots enthusiasts bonded and formed the resident band, which plays weekly under the billing of Ulysses S. Jasz (an amalgamation of Joyce's experimental novel, U.S. Gen. Grant and an early moniker for jazz).

The band will celebrate its seventh anniversary with a jazz party featuring guest musicians and a free buffet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the James Joyce, 513 State St. Information: 962-2688.

Founder and band leader Alex Marshall, aka Frank Franks, took a few minutes to talk to us in his soft Scottish brogue.

Q. Why did you start playing at the James Joyce?

A. I knew the owner of the pub, an Irishman from County Kildare by the name of Tommy Byrne. I bumped into him at another pub. He was visiting here from New York before he opened the James Joyce. When it came time to start jazz there, he said that's what he wanted to have on a Saturday night. ... It was a dream come true for me -- a banjo player from Scotland having his own band in Santa Barbara.

Q. What are some of the group's favorite tunes?

A. "Georgia on My Mind," "Dr. Jazz," " 'Deed I Do," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Original Dixieland One Step," "Fidgety Feet."

Q. In light of Hurricane Katrina, has the music has taken on another kind of resonance?

A. Yes, absolutely. I think it's done a lot to rekindle people's appreciation of New Orleans jazz. We've played several New Orleans benefits.

Q. Do you have a group of regular fans?

A. Right from the start we had enthusiasts who came all the time. Some of them drop out for a while, but we still have people who are there every week. Can't get enough of it. And it includes all ages. I keep getting compliments from 20-odd-year-old people who think the music is wonderful and they go out of their way to tell me. Jazz tends to become popular in times of national strife. Like depressions and so on. And there is quite an amount of strife right now with the Iraq war.

Q. Why is that?

A. It's dance music first of all. It's very rhythmic and has a definite beat, which people like to dance to. And most of it is happy. When I'm playing at the James Joyce, I see nothing but a sea of grins coming back to me. People tune in to it because it's a joyous sound.


"Basin Street Regulars Sunday Afternoon Session Presents Ulysses Jasz from Santa Barbara"

Basin Street Regulars Sunday Afternoon Session Presents Ulysses Jasz from Santa Barbara
By Staff

Ulysses Jasz will be the Basin Street Regulars featured band on November 22, at the Pismo Vet’ Hall from 1:00pm to 4:40pm. Ulysses plays spirited New Orleans Jazz and pop songs from the 1920’s and 1930’s that are largely selected from the compositions of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Kurt Weill, and Hoagy Carmichael. Ulysses plays this material with an infectious rhythm and spirit, characteristic of the Golden Age Jazz. Traditional Jazz lovers love this unique Santa Barbara band.

This month’s intermission band is the Cool Notes who started as part of the award-winning Cuesta Community College Combo Program (like many popular groups in the area). They are a very adaptive group of jazz musicians and with musical stylings ranging from Jazz to Blues. The Basin Street Regulars regularly supports groups like the Cool Notes, who all grew up in the area. Cool Notes features Flutist/Vocalist Talia Phillips. Duncan Green plays Tenor Sax, Matthew J. Evans on Upright Bass/Vocals, Madison Scott on Keyboard/Vocals. The drummer, Tom Brown, was sponsored by the BSR at the 2015 Cuesta College Jazz workshop Check out the Cool Notes from 2-3 pm and discover a very sophisticated, toe-tapping, brand of jazz that will leave you wondering, “How old are these kids?”

An open jam session starts at 11:00am before the featured bands perform.

Contact Sandy Smallwood 773-3750 for more information. - Information Press

"Sunday, May 21 Session: Ulysses Jasz band + Cal Poly Jazz Band"

Ulysses Jasz Band
ULYSSES JASZ was founded in 1998 by band leader Alex Marshall. Their repertoire of authentic, spirited New Orleans Jazz pop songs from the 1920's and 1930's is largely selected from the compositions of LOUIS ARMSTRONG, DUKE ELLINGTON, JELLY ROLL MORTON, JEROME KERN, IRVING BERLIN, JOHNNY MERCER, KURT WEILL and HOAGY CARMICHAEL. ULYSSES plays with an infectious rhythm and spirit, a la THE GOLDEN AGE of JAZZ. A unique Santa Barbara tradition, the band has delighted audiences at the downtown pub, The James Joyce, for the past sixteen years, developing an adoring local following among all ages. For more information, please contact Alex Marshall at (805)-962-9854 - Pismo Jazz Newsletter

"Ulysses Jasz band and more..."

Ulysses Jasz Band

ULYSSES JASZ was founded in 1998 by band leader Alex Marshall. Their repertoire of authentic, spirited New Orleans Jazz pop songs from the 1920's and 1930's is largely selected from the compositions of LOUIS ARMSTRONG, DUKE ELLINGTON, JELLY ROLL MORTON, JEROME KERN, IRVING BERLIN, JOHNNY MERCER, KURT WEILL and HOAGY CARMICHAEL.

ULYSSES plays this material with an infectious rhythm and spirit, characteristic of THE GOLDEN AGE of JAZZ.

A unique Santa Barbara tradition, the band has delighted audiences at the downtown pub The James Joyce for the past sixteen years, developing an adoring local following among all ages.

Available for Private Engagements in
Southern California Area

ULYSSES can add a wonderful, unique flavor to your event, and is available for private engagements by appointment.
Please contact Alex Marshall at (805)-962-9854 - Hope Dance

"Ulysses Jasz Band"

Ulysses Jasz has a repertoire of spirited New Orleans Jazz and 1920s and '30s Antique Pop from composers like; Armstrong, Morton, Ellington, and Mercer. The music is interpreted with plenty rhythm and the spirit characteristic of The Golden Age of Jazz.

The band features a vocalist, Hanna Ross, who develops her original style from Bourbon St. to Broadway.

The band has held the coveted Saturday night spot at The James Joyce Irish Pub in Downtown Santa Barbara for over sixteen years. - Channel Cities Jazz Club

"Longtime Jazz Band Celebrates with Anniversary Show in Santa Barbara Ulysses Jasz plans to pack the house Saturday at the James Joyce"

For 15 years, each Saturday night at the James Joyce nightspot in Santa Barbara, the Ulysses Jasz Band (they spell it with an "s") has turned back the hands of time for music lovers, and returned them to the days gone by.

This weekend they will hold an anniversary party as one of the longest running bands in the same location in Santa Barbara.

The music easily makes you think of the 20's and 30's, a scene from an old time movie, or simply makes you want to tap your feet and jump up for a dance.

At times guests, create a makeshift dance floor, and some go outside on the sidewalk and showcase some moves. - KEYT.com

"The Ulysses Jasz Band from Santa Barbara and the Cal Poly Jazz Band from San Luis Obispo will be playing "Hot Swingin' Jazz""

ULYSSES JASZ BAND from Santa Barbara is coming

Ulysses Jasz. Click for funny Video this Sunday. This is a great band that has delighted audiences at the SB downtown pub, The James Joyce, for the past sixteen years. They play together every week and it shows. Hanna is an outstanding Jazz Vocalist that you will really enjoy. - Off Beat


Too Late For Valentine

Happy Feet




ULYSSES JASZ was started in late 1998 by ALEX MARSHALL to play a Saturday residency at an Irish pub in busy downtown Santa Barbara. That pub, The James Joyce, owned and operated by County Galway native TOMMY BYRNE, has now presented live AMERICAN TRADITIONAL JAZZ and 20's and 30's ANTIQUE POP to capacity audiences for over fifteen years, unique in all of California.  The audience consists of all classes and ages - from mature jazz fans to students who are discovering this vital AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC for the first time.  The 8 member band consists of world class jazz instrumentalists and vocalists.

The authoritative and restrained power of CURT SLETTEN playing lead cornet reminds audiences of the big bands - GLENN MILLER, LES BROWN, HARRY JAMES and JIMMY DORSEY, all of whom he has played with. He has also backed singing stars such as TONY BENNETT, ARETHA FRANKLIN and MEL TORME. CURT adds hisdistinctive vocals and scat singing to the mix.

LARRY JONES is very well known in jazz circles as one of the best trombonists around. He used to have a rock show band called PRIMO but returned to jazz, his true love. He is also the virtuoso whistler in the band.

BOB EFFORD from London, a highly accomplished player of all the reed instruments, has played in the orchestras of TED HEATH and GEORGE MARTIN (England), BOB FLORENCE, BILL HOLMAN and JOHNNY MANDEL (USA). He can also be heard on many movie scores and BEATLES tracks.

DEAN DODS on string and tuba bass, is well known as the son and heir of BILL DODS, local jazz legend and former member. It's good to know Dean is carrying on the great DODS sound.

Swinging keyboardist JOHN LEONARD has carefully acquired early style, and a vast repertoire of Swing and popular pieces.

Scotsman ALEX MARSHALL, leads the band and plays arch top guitar and tenor banjo. ALEX has many years experience with British TRAD JAZZ bands. He frequently backed jazz legend cornet star WILD BILL DAVISON when he lived in Santa Barbara.

The band also proudly features HANNA, their jazz singer. She has developed her own dynamic style from Bourbon Street to Broadway with a fresh approach.

The whole ensemble is held together by the expert rhythmic pulse of RENE MARTINEZ and LARRY FISHER, who rotate engagements.

Their repertoire of spirited New Orleans Jazz and antique pop songs from the 1920s and 1930s is largely selected from the compositions of LOUIS ARMSTRONG, DUKE ELLINGTON, JELLY ROLL MORTON, JEROME KERN, IRVING BERLIN, COLE PORTER, JOHNNY MERCER, KURT WEILL and HOAGY CARMICHAEL.ULYSSES plays their feel-good and danceable sound with plenty of rhythm, spirit, and improvisational joy,characteristic of THE GOLDEN AGE of JAZZ.

Band Members