Jazz. Fast and slick, the expression of vivacious joy and dance. That’s what I always think of when I hear a good jazz song. Well, that and the Axeman of New Orleans…of course.
He was as hot as fresh griddlecakes, a temporary celebrity in Mardi Gras city. Unfortunately, when he paid you a visit, you were usually left with a splitting headache. Now that I’ve convinced you all I’m the Cryptkeeper, let’s move on to the actual meat of the story. The killings began in 1918…
March 1919, a letter arrives at the office of the Times-Picayune, apparently it’s from the Axeman. A jerk who went around breaking into people’s houses and butchering them with…you guessed it…an axe. Mostly Italian-Americans seemed to be his focus, but I guess we’ll never know his real motives. He was never caught.
The letter read as follows,
They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a fell demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.
When I see fit, I shall come again and claim other victims. I alone know who they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with the blood and brains of him whom I have sent below to keep me company.
If you wish you may tell the police not to rile me. Of course I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigation in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to amuse not only me but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don’t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.
Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship to the Angel of Death.
Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to visit New Orleans again. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a proposition to you people. Here it is:
I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of those people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.
Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and as it is about time that I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, and that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fantasy.
Obviously we had ourselves a pretentious nut-job on our hands. But he’d gotten his message across pretty thoroughly, because people were rushing to fill the city with music. Dance halls and clubs were jam-packed as many people as they could humanly fit, and anybody who couldn’t go to one of those desperately tried to hire a musician or two to pump some of those sweet tunes into their own homes. Jazz flowed freely that night, and it doesn’t seem anybody was murdered.
But the killings didn’t stop that night. They continued. One woman in particular seemed pretty strange after she found her husband dead in their room, lying in a pool of blood. Her name was Esther Albano, and she claimed to have gotten a glimpse of 2 murderers fleeing from her house. Strangely calm, Esther seemed to be in a state of shock. About a year later, though, she allegedly shot a man named Momphre. She had gotten a gun and waited for him to show, then delivered her own little slice of justice. Some information about the man seemed to match when the axe murderer would have gone about his grisly business, but there was no official evidence to have sentenced him. Esther was sentenced to a decade in prison, but only served about 3 before disappearing.
I wish I could say that last story was absolutely true, but I have no idea. There’s no official written evidence of it, and court records prior to computer filing systems could often times be misplaced or lost. But…the killings did stop, coincidentally.
You’d think the night New Orleans played a record amount of jazz music across the city would be the only other odd claim to fame our friend had. But he was also immortalized by John Davilla with a song…The Mysterious Azman’s Jazz. So here it is, just to remind you how easily a few hot tunes can save your life.