Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Today is the last day for discounted early bird Jazz Fest tickets


Organizers of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell want to remind patrons that early-bird tickets to Jazz Fest are available through Tuesday, February 2 for $60.

The advanced ticket price will be $65 beginning on February 3. The gate price ticket will be $75. Children’s tickets (ages 2 – 10) are still only $5 and are available at the gate only. Single-day tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale by specific weekend, with each ticket valid for a single day’s attendance.

Tickets are available at and, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Smoothie King Center Box Office. All general admission Jazz Fest tickets are subject to additional service fees and handling charges.

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Nigel Hall plays the
Blue Nile Saturday,
1/30, before tour


Modern day soulman Nigel Hall has been getting rave reviews for his first solo album, “Ladies and Gentlemen… Nigel Hall” and with great notices comes a tour. Of course, one of the hazards of being a New Orleans musician is you might have to miss Mardi Gras. Hall plays Saturday night at the Blue Nile before hitting the road to points west.

His album, which was produced by Eric Krasno of Soulive, has been in steady rotation on WWOZ as well as in the ears of lots of people around the country. I hope they are ready for one of the most invigorating performances I have heard recently.

On consecutive Wednesdays last month, he tore up the Maple Leaf Bar following his breakout album release party at Tipitina’s on December 2. I was at the album release as well as at two of the shows at the Maple Leaf.

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The Robert Glasper Experiment to play
Good Foot Ball at
Gasa Gasa, 1/29

Carnival gets into full swing this weekend with parades—large and small—parties, and balls. One of the newest organizations on the scene, the Krewe of King James: Super Bad Sex Machine Strollers, are opening their second annual ball to the public Friday night at Gasa Gasa.

With a unique fusion of R&B, jazz, and hip hop that brazenly traverses the boundaries of all three genres, the Robert Glasper Experiment have recorded award-winning albums for Blue Note records, including Black Radio, which won “Best R&B Album” at the 2012 Grammys, and Black Radio 2, which won “Best Traditional R&B Performance” at the 2015 Grammys.

The Robert Glasper Experiment features Glasper on keyboards, Casey Benjamin on saxophone and vocoder, Derrick Hodge on bass, and Mark Colenburg on drums.

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Daniela Mercury’s Virtual Vinyl in stores today, 1/22

Musically, the world is a great big place and nowhere is this more evident than in the career of Daniela Mercury. Though hardly unknown outside of her native Brazil, the Bahian-born singer is criminally unknown in the United States. She’s had more #1 hits in Brazil than any other female artist. Globally she’s sold over 20 million albums. Daniela Mercury is a superstar, a true international icon.

Her latest album, Virtual Vinyl, continues her upward trajectory from her start as a dancer through her long career as a solo artist. The album is a fusion of styles that, despite having only one song in English, her whimsical, idealized view of life, “Frogs in the Sky,” is very accessible to most listeners.

It hints at her roots in Salvador de Bahia, the musical capital of Brazil, and the grand Trios Eléctricos—giant rolling party machines, which are central to Carnival celebrations in the city. But it also reaches into the modern era with electronic, rock, and reggae touches.

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Art, Beats, and Lyrics to feature the New Orleans debut of DJ Rich Medina, Friday, 1/22

PHOTO: EILON PAZ, DUST & GROOVES | Taste makers emerge to set the standard for future development in the arts. This Friday night, the Howlin’ Wolf is the place to be to witness the first ever New Orleans performance of DJ Rich Medina (pictured below). Known primarily as the vinyl junkie who jumpstarted the Afrobeat/Hi Life scene on the east coast a decade ago, he is also a killer performer on the wheels of steel who seamlessly blends multi-genre sets.

His performance is part of the second local iteration of Art, Beats, and Lyrics, a take back of sorts designed to bring art and music out of the galleries and portfolios of the one percent and into the hands of the people.

The series explores hip-hop while highlighting urban art forms expressed through photography, graffiti, paintings, multi-media, DJing, and live music. It is presented by Jack Daniels and Scarface as well as some local artists are also scheduled to perform.

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The Big Speak Easy: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald debuts at Chickie Wah Wah, 1/21

An all-star group of New York and New Orleans musicians and vocalists will present the music of the great jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald modified, deconstructed, revamped, and reimagined for the current era. The show begins at 8 PM on Thursday night at Chickie Wah Wah and will feature two, 90-minute sets of music.

The project is the brainchild of Graham Hawthorne, one of the most highly regarded drummers in the music world. Formerly based in New York City, Hawthorne recently relocated to New Orleans. The musicians and singers will present a series of individual vocalists as well as male/ female duets representing Ella’s solo work and her efforts with male vocalists such as Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby. The new arrangements are by Hawthorne.

The cast of musicians and vocalists involved in this theatrical production include familiar faces from New Orleans and some serious talent out of New York. Brent Carter, an incredible, New York-based soul singer, will be joined by New Orleans vocalists Kristina Morales, Cole Williams, Sandra Grace Johnson, Tarriona “Tank” Ball, and Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph.

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New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2016 lineup announced


The fine folks at Festival Productions got anticipation rising and tongues wagging when the day-to-day schedule was released several hours ago. The annual festival, April 22—May 1 this year, always has something for everyone’s musical taste, but also always manages to get pundits pontificating about who was left off the lineup, who shouldn’t be on the lineup, and every other tidbit of musical minutia.

The top ten acts on the list support that inclusive notion—Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, Snoop Dog, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Beck, Van Morrison and Nick Jonas—but digging deeper into the daily schedule reveals the intricacies of the lineup, its fidelity to its mission of supporting New Orleans and Louisiana music even in these changing times, and some true hidden gems.

Consider DéDé Saint-Prix of Martinique. Few have heard of this Caribbean music legend—he is one of the inventors of the high-energy dance music called zouk. But his booking ties the festival back to its roots in the early 1980s when it began stretching the genre limits inherent to a festival in New Orleans. Back then they brought in Malavoi, a string band from Martinique, that blew away a crowd with celebrities like David Byrne and Paul Simon in attendance.

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Swiss Sounds of Simon Berz’s Soul Shakers for Chickie Wah Wah, 1/19

Chickie Wah Wah, the fine listening establishment on Canal Street stretches the ears with a performance by Swiss jazz drummer, electronic musician, and sound artist Simon Berz. The acclaimed musician has been on an extended visit to New Orleans performing with a who’s who of local musicians and recently returned from a trip to Cuba.

He will be appearing with three of the standout performers on the New Orleans improvised music scene. Expect to hear sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, cellist and loop specialist Helen Gillet, and saxophonist/ clarinetist Aurora Nealand.

Berz has won numerous awards and tours solo and in different formations through Europe, the United States, Japan, Iceland, and China. He creates music and soundscapes for theatre and film and recently composed and conducted a soundtrack to the silent film Metropolis for screenings in Switzerland and China.

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Indie showcase at Chickie Wah Wah Saturday night, 1/16

The fine listening establishment on Canal Street presents a special Saturday night showcase featuring three acts that are making waves playing soulful songs and presenting scintillating live performances. The music begins at 8 PM and continues on the hour.

Headliners Ship of Fools are composed of music students studying at LSU in Baton Rouge. Led by cello player and Venezuelan native Raudol Palacios and fronted by vivacious vocalist Ashley Monaghan, the eclectic ensemble also features Michael Blount on guitar and Eric Brown on drums.

The mixture of Ashley’s powerful vocals, Michael’s folk guitar and Raudol’s classical-influenced cello lines backed by Eric’s intricate drumming creates a unique acoustic indie sound.

Wild Ponies are a Nashville-based husband and wife duo. The music of Doug and Telisha Williams draws on old-time tradition while embracing the fierce spirit of the songwriters who inspire them—Hazel Dickens, Steve Earle, and Lucinda Williams, to name a few.

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The Danny Barker Banjo
and Guitar Fest kicks off today, 1/14


The second annual festival to honor the great and influential jazz musician, Danny Barker, born yesterday, January 13 in 1909, will be presenting performances and other events at several venues around the city culminating in a show at the Carver Theater Saturday night. Snug Harbor is the place to be Thursday night for the first performance.

Danny’s Birthday Bash will feature musicians who trained directly under Barker’s tutelage when they were youngsters. The New Orleans native returned to the city in 1965 after a long and successful career in New York and began reviving brass band music.

Expect to see trumpeter Gregg Stafford, drummer Shannon Powell, and trombonist Lucien Barbarin among other musicians with special guests guitarist Steve Masakowski (the proud owner of one of Barker’s guitars) and banjoist and guitarist Don Vappie. Performances are at 8 and 10 PM.

There are clinics, panel discussions, a parade and lots more performances at various venues around town. The full schedule is here.

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