NEW ORLEANS — At midnight last Saturday, friends and well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday” to the trumpet player who led the band that night at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe. When they finished, the trumpet player turned to a few young women sitting behind him.
“Have you ever kissed a hundred-year-old man?” he asked.
The next night, jazz royalty from around the city turned out for Lionel Ferbos’s birthday party, amazed that one of their colleagues could have made it a full century. The wide Ferbos brood of tan-skinned Creoles with thin faces, pointy noses and impossible grace dominated the room, but men in seersucker suits with white straw hats and other appropriate characters filled it out. It being New Orleans, there was also a sparkly gold top hat, a red feathered sash and copious fleurs-de