Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Juice from Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood in stores today, 9/16

The ongoing collaboration between the jazz guitar legend John Scofield and the adventurous jazz-rock trio, Medeski, Martin & Wood continues today with the release of Juice. This is their third effort together; an ever-changing musical dialogue that began with the 1997 release of A Go Go.

This time out, the quartet sought common ground in exploring the rhythms of the African diaspora, including sounds from Brazil and the Caribbean and how they intertwine with jazz. A Go Go was all compositions by Scofield and 2006’s Out Louder was an exercise in collective co-improvisation.

The album includes four cover songs including three very well-known tunes from the rock ‘n’ roll canon.

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Marcello Benetti celebrates new album release at Snug Harbor, 9/14

Creative music has been getting a lot of attention these days from TVD New Orleans and from writers across the city. One of the reasons has been an influx of talent moving to the city as well as visiting to perform.

Benetti is a well-regarded Italian drummer, composer, and improviser who first visited in 2008 to interact with the city’s great musicians. He moved here in 2011 and celebrates the release of his second American recording at Snug Harbor on Sunday night.

From East To West is the name of the album and it features three stalwarts of the local scene. Helen Gillet plays cello, Rex Gregory is on clarinets and flute, and Jeff Albert is on trombone. Read More »

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Creative saxophonist Ken Vandermark invades New Orleans

The McArthur Foundation grant winner will be in the city today and tomorrow (9/8-9/9) for a variety of events including a solo improvised performance, two collaborations with local musicians, and speaking appearances.

Often described as an avant-garde musician, Vandermark’s primary creative emphasis has been the exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation. He was awarded the McArthur “genius” award in 1999.

His first appearance will be Monday evening at 8 PM in the acoustically pristine environs of Loyola University’s Roussel Performance Hall. The entirely improvised show will feature three stalwarts of the local creative music scene—drummer Alvin Fielder, bassist James Singleton, and trombonist Jeff Albert.

Prior to the performance, Albert, a professor of music at Loyola, will interview Vandermark. The show and the interview are free!

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Jazz in the Park series kicks off for the Fall today, 9/4

The days are getting shorter; the nights are getting longer. As of press time there was even a hint of coolness in the air. But we really know fall is on the way when the concerts begin in Armstrong Park.

The fall series, which continues until October 30, opens this afternoon with a killer double bill. Drummer Shannon Powell will lead his all-star band beginning at 5 PM. Expect to see Kyle Roussell on keys, Jeranne Ansari on tenor sax, and the legendary David Barard (Dr. John) on bass playing a mix of R & B, jazz, and funk.

His performance will be preceded by a parade at 4 PM featuring those Tremé mainstays, the Sudan Social Aid and Pleasure Club. The parade will feature the All4One Brass Band.

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Saxophonist Tim Green, R.I.P.

Numerous superlatives have been utilized by professional writers, fans, and fellow musicians to describe the musical prowess of the consummate sideman who passed away last week. Over the course of over 30 years he performed on stages of every size within every style on the vast musical continuum we call “New Orleans music.” From avant-garde jazz to hard rock, he played with hundreds of musicians and seemingly preferred none of them to any other.

What he brought to every performance was an intense spirit and focus regardless of whether he was on stage in giant venues with musical superstars like Peter Gabriel, in sold out clubs with local icons like George Porter, Jr., or in an empty bar with a pick up blues band. This video is short, but it defines his aesthetic.

Over the course of those 30 plus years I saw Green perform hundreds of times. If I had to choose one adjective to describe his abilities, it is synergistic. He made every musician he played with sound better. He made every band he played with sound better. And he made every performance sound better to every listener in the room.

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TVD Recommends:
The Songs of Townes Van Zandt at Chickie Wah Wah, 8/28

The musical poet laureate of Texas has never had a huge profile except among the musical cognoscenti, but since his death, his acclaim has only grown and is reaching a new generation of musicians who weren’t even born during his heyday. Thursday night at Chickie Wah Wah a gaggle of them are coming together to play the songs of Van Zandt.

The Kid Carsons are, pardon the pun, the newest kids on the block in New Orleans. Fronted by a brother and sister team, the band puts the country into country rock with fabulous original songs. I also heard them do a set of songs from the Byrds’ Sweethearts of the Rodeo album, which featured country rock avatar Gram Parsons, and was impressed by their musicality and attention to historic detail.

Alexis Marceaux has grown in stature far beyond her television claim to fame as a contestant on The Voice. Along with multi-instrumentalist Sam Craft, she fronts Alexis and the Samurai. But that band may eventually be eclipsed by their francophone big band project, Sweet Crude.

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New Orleans Suspects sign with Louisiana Red Hot Records


The New Orleans supergroup that grew out of the ashes of breakup of the Radiators and the Neville Brothers has signed with the local label which is also the home of Glen David Andrews, Honey Island Swamp Band, and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.

The label will release their new studio album Ouroboros across the nation on October 14, 2014.

Formed in the summer of 2011, the New Orleans Suspects are some of the best, most highly respected players in New Orleans. The band features Reggie Scanlan on bass (The Radiators, Professor Longhair), “Mean” Willie Green on drums (Neville Brothers drummer), Jeff Watkins on saxophone (music director for James Brown Band, Joss Stone Band), Jake Eckert on guitar/vocals (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), and CR Gruver on keyboards and vocals (Polytoxic, Outformation).

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TVD Recommends:
Luke Allen Trio and Kalu James at Chickie Wah Wah tonight, 8/22

This evening’s musical bill at the Canal Street club has something for everyone. Allen, best known for his Happy Talk Band, will be playing with some different, inspiring musicians and the Austin- based musician will be making his second appearance at the club. Read to the end for info on how to catch James for free this afternoon.

Since readers may be not be familiar with Kalu James, here’s some tidbits of info to get you psyched. The singer/songwriter was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States as a teenager. His sound mixes blues, folk, and rock with decidedly African influences. He will be appearing acoustically with a lone accompanist.

Luke Allen is known for his wry songs and the Happy Talk Band is stocked with musicians who are mainstays in the downtown scene. But, his regular band plays infrequently around town.

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The Prime Example inaugurates Latin jazz night, 8/21

The club on the corner of N. Broad Street and St. Bernard Avenue is expanding the scope of their Swingin’ at the Prime jazz series, in partnership with the CubaNOLA Arts Collective, to include Latin jazz on the third Thursday of every month.

Tonight is the first installment and it’s going to be a Cuban dance party with Los Caballeros del Son, one of the premiere Latin music groups currently performing in South Louisiana. They play traditional son music, the foundation of all Cuban dance music.

Los Caballeros del Son feature bandleader Guillermo “El Mono” (the Monkey) Guzmán on piano, percussion and bass and Alexis Guevara Muñoz on lead vocals and guitar. Guzmán and Guevara are both from Ciego de Ávila, Cuba. Read More »

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Wil Blades’ Field Notes out today, 8/19

New Orleans’ own drummer Simon Lott and guitarist Jeff Parker join the ace keyboardist on this grooving collection released today on Royal Potato Family Records.

This is Blades’ third recording as a leader and his first to feature Lott and Parker. His previous release on Royal Potato Family was the duo recording, Shimmy, with the drummer Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin and Wood. His first solo effort, Sketchy, featured the late, great Idris Muhammad.

“I always had the idea in my mind that doing a trio with Jeff Parker and Simon Lott would have a cool vibe and would be very open,” Blades said. “Both of those guys can play straight-ahead jazz, they can funk, they can take it out, they can go in so many different directions.” That is putting it mildly.

Blades is influenced by the old school organ trio concept epitomized by one of the legends, Dr. Lonnie Smith. Smith has also taken Blades under his wing as a mentor. “A lot of the older guys really want the music to be carried on, and the old school method was not jazz college, it was mentorship,” Blades said.

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