A “jazz brunch” is a brunch (a breakfast/lunch meal usually served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) that includes jazz music. Commander’s Palace made the jazz brunch a tradition in New Orleans in 1974, when trumpeter Alvin Alcorn (1912-2003) played there with his band.
However, earlier “jazz brunches” were held in California (1960), New Orleans (1969), Illinois (1971) and New York City (1973).
29 April 1960, San Mateo (CA) Times, pg. 21, col. 3:
Murray Lehr is about to set a new trend in San Francisco with his Society Jazz Sunday Brunch at the Canterbury Hotel starting May Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and featuring Ralph Sutton’s Group, who just closed a very successful winter season at Squaw Valley Lodge.
Jazz has been a big thing at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York for some time and will be a great “first” for the hi-fi and stereo jazz set in the bay area. Dancing, relaxing music, and a delicious variety of brunch dishes with your favorite eye-opener (be it a fizz, sour, or Bloody Mary), this affair promises to be the new “in-thing” for the Junior Exec’s social calendar.
21 September 1969, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Jazz and Business on WAABI Agenda,” sec. 4, pg. 6, col. 4:
On Oct. 12 a “Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch,” featuring Dixieland music and New Orleans cuisine, will close the meeting.
9 April 1971, The Herald (Elk Grove Village, IL), “‘Round The Corner,” sec. 2, pg. 4, col. 1:
North suburban jazz modernists can get their kicks from the Judy Roberts.John Bishop quartette while an Easter Hat contest will provide the color at the Easter jazz brunch schedules for Sunday at the London House North Edens and Lake Cook Road in Highland Park.
29 October 1973, New York magazine, pg. 20, col. 3:
Churchill’s—1277 Third Ave betw. 73rd & 74th. (...) Sunday jazz brunch concerts 2-5 p.m
16 February 1974, The Times-Picayune, sec. 3, pg. 6, col. 4 ad:
THIS SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Old Time New Orleans Jazz
Alvin Alcorn and his band play Brunch at Commander’s
Starts at 11 A.M.
Washington Avenue and Coliseum St.
20 March 1974, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Remoulade” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 1, pg. 11, col. 2:
AN O.K. B-OK from Babette Katz Syvert and Virginia Hall to the melodic musical group currently playing at Commander’s Palace for the Sunday Jazz Brunch. The group consists of Alvin Alcorn, trumpet; Louis Cottrell, clarinet; Louis Barbarin, drums, and Placide Adams, bass. All the bandsmen are mobile, said Mrs. Syvert, moving around riskly—even Adams and his big bass fiddle.
OCLC WorldCat record
New Orleans jazz brunch
Author: Alvin Alcorn; Frank Fields; Justin Adams; Alvin Alcorn Jazz Trio.
Publisher: New York : Sandcastle Records, 1976.
Edition/Format: Music LP : No Linguistic Content
The Pelican Guide to New Orleans
By Thomas Kurtz Griffin
Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.
Commander’s Palace is also credited with inaugurating the popular Sunday Jazz Brunch with musicians playing soft jazz as they circulate among the diners. (Other restaurants have now copied this practice.)
World Food: New Orleans
By Pableaux Johnson and Charmaine O’Brien
Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications
Jazz bands were added to the mix, and the tradition of the ‘Jazz Brunch’ is now a common Sunday morning tourist draw. New Orleans may not be the devout Catholic city it once was, but brunch remains a very popular meal among tourists who can afford the pricey egg dishes and morning cocktails referred to as ‘eye openers’ (see Eye Openers in the Drinks chapter).
The Da Capo Jazz and Blues Lover’s Guide to the U.S.
By Christiane Bird
Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press
The jazz brunch was supposedly originated by Ella Brennan of the famous Brennan restaurant family. Since then, the Idea has spread all over the city, and although the music is usually only pleasant background sound, the food — this being New Orleans—is always first-rate.
Google News Archive
20 July 2003, Beaver County (PA) Times, “Obituaries,” pg. A4, col. 6:
NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Alvin Alcorn, a trumpeter whose trio started the jazz brunch that is now a tradition in New Orleans restaurants, died July 10 after a long illness. He was 90.
Alcorn was born Sept. 7, 1912, in New Orleans and spent much of his career playing in the French Quarter. It was his trio, with a guitar and a standup bass, that strolled among tables of customers at Commander’s Palace and started the tradition of the Ne Orleans jazz brunch.
New York (NY) Times
Have Your Brunch and Listen to It, Too
By AMANDA PETRUSICH
Published: August 26, 2010
Among New York City’s many, many brunches are those that come with a live soundtrack. Music can energize the meal, making brunch more of an extension of weekend nights than a defeated epilogue.
The jazz brunch is a well-documented New York institution, but there are other options.
Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans
By Lolis Eric Elie
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC
Even though no one does it exactly like Madame Begue, this is the meal on which the New Orleans reputation for Sunday brunch is built. These days, every Sunday Brunch in New Orleans is a “jazz brunch.”
As New Orleans As It Gets: Jazz Brunch At Commander’s Palace
by VALERIE BOUCVALT on AUGUST 30, 2013
New Orleans restaurants each have personalities all their own, and beloved Garden District restaurant Commander’s Palace is as New Orleans as they come. Owner Ti Martin, daughter of Ella Brennan of the famous New Orleans restaurateur family, carries on the tradition and spirit that have given Commander’s Palace its magic and charm since 1880.
The restaurant’s menu Martin defines as “Haute Creole,” but the inevitable mixes of both Cajun and Creole are evident in their gourmet signature dishes. One of the best things about Commander’s Palace is their Jazz Brunch. Every Saturday and Sunday, they feature a changing brunch menu filled with both traditional and unique breakfast items. As you bite into one of their gorgeous Creole poached egg dishes and take a sip of your Ramos Gin Fizz or Mimosa, live jazz musicians fill the room with “good, happy jazz,” as Martin describes it. Second lines break out regularly and, all in all, the experience perfectly encapsulates New Orleans culture in one perfectly-timed meal.