Author Archives: Jay Mazza

Nolatet’s new LP No Revenge Necessary in stores 4/27

When Nolatet released their debut album Dogs in 2016, many observers assumed it was a one-off project from four very busy musicians. But with this Friday’s release of No Revenge Necessary on Royal Potato Family, which follows a successful national tour and with five dates already set during Jazz Fest, it appears the band is here to stay.

Nolatet features three stalwarts of the New Orleans music scene—drummer Johnny Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton, and vibraphonist/ percussionist Mike Dillon. The pianist Brian Haas is the wild card for New Orleans listeners. Haas, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is the founder the acclaimed experimental jazz trio Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, proves on this recording to be much more than the special guest he sounded like on Dogs.

Haas and Singleton (a prolific creator of music in all of his many projects) each composed four of the nine tracks on No Revenge Necessary. Dillon contributed “Elegant Miss J,” one of the tracks where his touch on the vibraphone demonstrates his ability to shift on a dime and gives Vidacovich a chance to play off the vibes.

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Our French Quarter Fest weekend picks, 4/14–4/15

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | The French Quarter Festival expands to twenty-three stages for Saturday and Sunday. There’s more music happening than any one person can even digest, never mind attempt to hear. But your faithful correspondent has spent hours perusing the schedule to find the hidden gems. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

The House of Blues Voodoo Garden stage is one of the secret spots at the French Quarter Fest. Shaded and complete with a small dance floor and tables in the back, it’s the perfect spot to beat the heat and the crowds.

End your day there with Sexy Dex and the Fresh. Dexter Gilmore is one of the city’s rising stars; he plays guitar and presents like a future rock god. With a backing vocalist who sings perfect harmony, this band is one to watch.

Of course, if you want to be right in the middle of things, Otra closes out the Tropical Isle stage in Woldenberg Park. Bassist Sam Price leads this top-notch Cuban jazz dance band. They will get the crowd up and moving whether they want to or not.

Since I have highlighted bands that don’t play around all that much on the previous days’ picks, I would be remiss to fail to mention Egg Yolk Jubilee. This band of rocking, brass musicians plays music influenced by the New Orleans canon, but with their own twisted twist.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Friday, 4/13

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | Don’t let the fact that it’s Friday the 13th scare you away from the French Quarter. The lineup of the neighborhood’s namesake festival just gets better every day. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Kick off the day with Bon Bon Vivant. This band of young gypsy jazz-inspired musicians has been impressing people with their tight musicality and the original songs of Abigail Cosio (pictured at top) since they burst on the scene several years back.

I had a chance to check them out for the first time at an in-store performance at the Louisiana Music Factory and loved their sound, particularly the strong sax work of Jeremy Kelley and the harmony vocals from Cosio’s sister, Glori.

As the day goes on, the festival may start to get crowded. A good place to chill out and listen to the music or dance up an appetite is at the Popeye’s Brass Band stage (presented with OffBeat magazine). The lineup is solid all day but pay attention to the New Orleans Nightcrawlers and Magnetic Ear.

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Our French Quarter Fest picks for Thursday, 4/12

PHOTO: MOLLY MALDOVAN | Festival season gets into full swing with the first weekday concerts leading up to the granddaddy of them all—the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in two weeks. In keeping with French Quarter Festival’s focus on locals and to entice you to take the afternoon off, Thursday’s schedule has some big names packed onto just six stages (the festival expands each day as the weekend progresses.) Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Irma Thomas (pictured at top) and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band close out the Abita Beer stage. Thomas has been impressing audiences with her great voice and down home stage persona, which I have it on good authority is not an act, for decades. She’s one of the true legends living among us. Don’t miss her while you have the chance.

Early in the day, I am torn between three of the finest purveyors of traditional New Orleans jazz on the scene today. The Preservation All-Stars features the core group of the band made famous by its namesake institution. The Panorama Jazz Band takes its cues from trad jazz, but the group, led by clarinetist Ben Schenck, takes the music as far afield as Brazil, the Caribbean and even the Balkans. Expect to see saxophonist Aurora Nealand on the bandstand trading lines with Schenck.

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Funk Monkey’s Rollin—Live at the Leaf in stores 4/13, Maple Leaf release party 4/14

This weekend will be a hectic one for music lovers in New Orleans as the French Quarter Festival kicks off on Thursday and continues through Sunday. Our daily picks will be coming later in the week. For one band in particular, the weekend will be especially busy.

Funk Monkey releases their first full-length album, Rollin—Live at the Leaf on Friday and celebrates the release on Saturday night at the Maple Leaf Bar. They are also set to play FQF on Saturday on the Jack Daniels stage at 5:30 PM.

Funk Monkey’s first commercially available product, an EP, appeared in 2014 and set the stage for this latest recording by showcasing the soulful playing of the band’s front men—trombonist Greg Hicks and guitarist Bert Cotton. If those names sound familiar it’s because the two musicians play together in Bonerama. The band also features four other well-known local musicians. Dave Pomerleau is on bass and vocals, Eddie Christmas is on drums, Rik Fletcher is on organ and keys, and Brad Walker plays saxophone.

I was at the show back in July 2017 when the album was recorded and I can tell you the band was on fire. The recording, which was produced by Hicks, Cotton, and storied local producer Tracey Freeman and mixed by Freeman as well, is a pristine document of a great night of music.

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Walter “Wolfman” Washington to debut
My Future is My Past
at Snug Harbor, 4/7

The latest release from New Orleans blues, funk, and R&B legend Walter “Wolfman” Washington is a major departure from his previous work both live and on records. My Future is My Past finds the guitarist and vocalist performing in a mostly solo setting and collaborating with the understated presence of some of the city’s finest musicians. He will debut the material and celebrate the release of the album, scheduled nationally for April 20, on Saturday night at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro.

For fans of Washington, especially those who relish his light touch on the guitar and emotive vocals on the slower, bluesy songs in his repertoire, this album is a chance to hear what he might sound like if you happened to stumble into his living room while he was working on new arrangements or new tunes. This is not the funky, horn-driven sound fans have loved for decades; it’s an intimate portrait of an artist at the peak of his powers working in an unfamiliar, yet entirely comfortable setting.

Early in his career, Washington provided musical support for one of the greatest balladeers to ever play the blues—the late Johnny Adams. As his guitarist and bandleader Washington never sang with Adams, but he clearly soaked up the great singer’s intonation and phrasing. Evidence of his influence is all over this album.

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TVD Video Premiere: KLYPH, “Eins (Valley)”

PHOTO COURTESY OF KLYPH | KLYPH is the nom du musique of electronic artist and guitarist Cliff Hines. We’re proud to present the debut of his self-directed music video, “Eins (Valley).” Not only did Hines direct the video, he plays all the music, (guitar, vocals, electronics) and mixed and mastered the recording.

On his KLYPH project, Hines uses electronics to transform and layer his guitar into soundscapes, accompanied by analog synths, glitch dance drums, and ominous robotic vocoder vocals. The sound is edgy and mixes dark dance grooves with frightful textures, dreamscapes and otherworldly sounds. The work evokes some of his influences including Nine Inch Nails, Kraftwerk, and My Bloody Valentine.

Hines is a zealous musical polymath whose work spans numerous genres. Well regarded in the New Orleans progressive music scene, he also tours with legendary songstress Rickie Lee Jones, plays with the percussionist Mike Dillon in his namesake band, and is the guitarist/ sound designer for jazz trumpeter Christian Scott’s critically acclaimed, Centennial Trilogy. The work is composed of lots of heavily processed video created in After Effects. The glitchy visuals mirror the cold and manic world created within the song.

KLYPH will perform live at the Dragon’s Den on April 19 and the full, as-yet-titled EP will appear early in the summer via Bubble Bath Records.

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Alana Davis previews Love Again at the Little Gem Saloon, 3/31

Guitarist and bandleader Marc Stone has made a side career bringing singers who haven’t played in a while back into the spotlight. On Saturday night, Alana Davis, one of the leading lights of the folk/pop boom of the late 1990s will make her first appearance in New Orleans in twenty years. She will be playing at the Little Gem Saloon with Stone and his band along with special guests trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and bassist Reggie Scanlan. The show will be a sneak peak of sorts at her new album, Love Again, which is due in stores in May. It is her first album since 2004.

Davis’ sultry voice and sophisticated sense of melody set her apart from many of her contemporaries right from the beginning of her career. In 1997, she burst on the scene as a neophyte in the music business and was signed out of the blue by Elektra Records.

Her breakout debut, Blame It On Me, was named one the top 5 albums of 1997 by Time magazine and propelled her from a total unknown to a festival headliner with singles in heavy rotation on radio and MTV, a Top 40 hit, and a Grammy nomination.

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French Quarter Festival full schedule is out now, TVD returns as Media Sponsor

For the seventh year in a row, The Vinyl District is a media sponsor of the French Quarter Festival, which is scheduled for April 12–15. The festival continues to grow and attract new talent, boasting the debuts of over 30 artists. Here’s a preview of what’s to come. Stay tuned to TVD for daily previews and reviews.

Of all of the new artists performing for the first time at the fest, I am most excited about Chocolate Milk. This 1970s-era New Orleans R&B/funk band were contemporaries of the Meters and actually released more major label albums than their more famous peers.

Speaking of the Meters, Cyril Neville who provided vocals and percussion for the band during the tail end of their heyday, has a new band called Swamp Funk. The group features a bassist who has a deep pedigree in New Orleans funk. Daryl Johnson was a member of the Neville Brothers during their 1980s period of world domination.

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Soulive’s “Cinematics, Vol. 1” EP in stores
today, 3/23

The genre-smashing groove masters in Soulive are releasing their first collection of new music in six years. The EP, “Cinematics, Vol. 1” is out today on digital and vinyl formats via the trio’s own label, Soulive Music.

The band, which features brothers Alan (drums) and Neal (keys) Evans along with guitarist Eric Krasno, is best known for their infectious blend of soul-jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock. But “Cinematics, Vol. 1” takes them in a different direction. The group has transformed their sound with five new cuts that evoke film soundtracks, hence the EP’s title.

Though the concept of creating music that comes across like it was created to support a visual medium sounds like it was planned, the band insists it happened organically. They arrived at Alan Evans’ studio without any overarching concept in mind.

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Roosevelt Collier’s Exit 16 in stores Friday, 3/9

The well-known pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier releases his first solo album on Friday. Collier says, “This record is a record about me. It’s telling a story of who I am, where I’m from and where I’m going.”

On the record, which is called Exit 16 after his hometown exit off the Florida turnpike, Collier plays both pedal and lap steel guitars. Bassist Michael League of Snarky Puppy (who also produced the album), drummer JT Thomas, and organist Bobby Sparks join him on the album.

Collier first came to my attention playing with the Lee Boys. Their style of “sacred steel” is a unique tradition of the House of God congregation and features fervently evocative fretwork that evokes the transcendent experience of gospel music through high-energy guitar work.

As a solo performer, Collier is now a sought-after talent both on record and on stage, performing alongside musical luminaries in rock, blues, and pop. Some of his many collaborators include the Allman Brothers, the String Cheese Incident, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Robert Randolph, and the Del McCoury Band.

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Black Times from
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
in stores today, 3/2

Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Afrobeat legend and African music icon Fela Kuti continues to draw from the deep well of his father’s music while forging his own path in the 21st century. He returns with his fourth album, Black Times, which is in stores today. The album features appearances from Carlos Santana, Robert Glasper, and others.

Seun Kuti has carried the did mantle of his father and his father’s music since 1997 when Fela passed away and he inherited his band as a 14-year-old. Egypt 80 was originally known as Egypt 70 and appeared on many of Fela’s most important works.

Though Seun maintains his father’s band and has the same understanding of the role of music in addressing injustice in the world as the famed musical revolutionary, he is clearly living in this century. As with his previous album, A Long Way To The Beginning which was released three years ago, Black Times was co-produced by the Grammy-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper.

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GlobalFEST’s “New Golden Age of Latin Music” comes to the Hi Ho Lounge, 3/2

(Editor’s note- order of bands has switched) In a stroke of luck for New Orleans music lovers, two of the most acclaimed Latin bands in the United States arrive in the Crescent City for a show at the Hi Ho Lounge on Friday, March 2. Orkestra Mendoza and Las Cafeteras are on a national theater tour and suddenly had a free night. Shows on the rest of the tour have been in theaters including performances at the Manship Theater in Baton Rouge, so this is a chance to see these acts in an intimate setting.

Singer and guitarist Sergio Mendoza founded Orkestra Mendoza in 2009 as a one-off tribute to the Cuban mambo king Pérez Prado. The band, which is from Tucson, Arizona, calls their sound “indie mambo” and plays an amalgamation of Latin styles including mambo, ranchera, and cumbia with a healthy dose of psychedelia and rock ‘n’ roll. The group includes Sean Rogers on bass and vocals, Jaime Peters on drums, Marco Rosano on keys and saxophone, Brian Lopez on guitar and vocals, and Quetzal Guerrero on violin and vocals.

Though based in Tucson, Mendoza grew up straddling the United States-Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora. While the music of Orkestra Mendoza comes across as a high-energy dance band, Mendoza is well aware of the current political climate and the demonization of Mexicans. Yet, his mission is to allow audiences to forget about politics and institutional racism and just dance.

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TVD Live Shots: The Revolution at the Joy Theater, 2/22

PHOTOS: INGRID WILLIAMS | From the opening notes of “America” all doubts were dispelled. The Revolution was hitting on all cylinders like the same well-oiled machine that helped expose Prince’s music to anyone unfamiliar with the icon in the period before “Purple Rain” made him a superstar. The rest of the concert was a history lesson, homage to the legend, and a real good time.

With bassist Mark “Brownmark” Brown and guitarist Wendy Melvoin (pictured at top) handling most of the vocal duties and acting as co-bandleaders, they tore through a set list of both hits and deep cuts demonstrating the depth of Prince’s catalog. A more obscure song, “Computer Blue,”  followed the opener which was the first single off Around the World in a Day, one of the albums that featured the definitive version of The Revolution.

After a high energy start filled with other funky tunes like “Take Me With You” and “D.M.S.R.” the audience was fully engaged with what the band was trying to do. They showed that they are not just a cover band reeling off hits by another artist, but the band, which had a hand in creating the songs.

Melvoin ably handled vocals on “Raspberry Beret” but cautioned the crowd that without Prince singing we would have to handle some of the vocals. Of course, the place went wild with a sing-a-long that was repeated three songs later on “1999.”

It was clear that the night was as emotional for the musicians as it was for the audience. This was never clearer than when drummer Bobby Z., keyboardist Dr. Fink, and Brown left the stage to allow Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman to duet on the bittersweet ballad, “Sometimes it Snows in April.” The feeling of loss was clear on their faces and throughout the audience as well.

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Soul Project celebrates release of The Long Hustle at D.B.A., 2/25

Soul Project, one of the hardest working bands in New Orleans, will make their first appearance at D.B.A., though hardly their first show on Frenchmen Street, on Sunday to celebrate the release of their sophomore effort, The Long Hustle. Show time is 10 PM and the band expects numerous special guests including several of the musicians who have cycled through New Orleans’ own self-proclaimed ambassadors of funk over the years.

Led by guitarist and vocalist Cristian Duque, Soul Project has been grinding it out in the clubs of New Orleans since 2001. The Long Hustle is the follow-up album to their 2013 Offbeat magazine’s “Best Of The Beat” nominated debut album, Music For Movers & Shakers.

I have seen the band numerous times over the years and a recent set at the Louisiana Music Factory found the group on top of their game. Though they proclaim themselves to be funksters, and they are definitely funky, old school New Orleans R&B runs through their music like blood runs through veins.

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