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Rhodes Spedale is a renowned jazz pianist, author, educator, historian, and radio personality. He is a native of Plaquemine LA and a long time resident of New Orleans LA. He began playing piano at the age of seven under the instruction of Anna May Babin. While attending Pomona College in Pomona CA, he was a student of the late jazz pianist, Hampton Hawes, for two years. He also studied underrenowned New York pianist, John Mehegan.
After serving in the Army at The Presidio in San Francisco CA, Spedale returned to New Orleans in 1966 and slowly worked his way into the local jazz scene. In 1972, he began producing a Sunday evening program, Jazz Sketches at WWNO, a local jazz radio station. This program explored all forms of jazz, from traditional to avant garde, and ended in 1985. He then hosted Jazz From Congo Square on WWOZ until 1990.
Rhodes has played in a number of local clubs, hotels, and restaurants over the years, including theClub Second Line, The Mint Julep Lounge at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, The Esplanade Room at the Royal Orleans Hotel, Royal Sonesta Hotel, Pontchatrain Hotel, Westin, Intercontinental, Le Meridien, Bourbon Orleans, Antoine’s Restaurant, Arnaud’s Restaurant, Charley G’s, Restaurant Jonathan, and the Empire and Bombay Clubs. He has been a regular performer at the French Quarter Festivalsince its inception, and Rhodes has played at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Spedale has written on jazz and his reviews and articles appear in a number of publications, including Jazz Times, Jazz Forum, Reviews a la Mode, New Orleans Magazine, New Orleans Arts Council Newsletter, and in liner notes for Concord Jazz. A larger undertaking was published in 1984 when he authored A Guide to Jazz in New Orleans. A Guide to Jazz highlights the historical, as well as modern jazz musicians who hail from New Orleans, and includes many first hand accounts by the author, as well as a number of photographs of musicians who are discussed throughout the book.