Category Archives: TVD New Orleans

Newly released live recordings of African greats are a highlight of Zaire 74, in stores now

African music lovers rejoice! A new double live album on Wrasse Records, Zaire 74: The African Performers, features three superstars from the continent and three bands that are relatively unknown even to aficionados of world music. The superstars may not be household names to casual music fans, but Miriam Makeba, Tabu Ley Rochereau, and Franco are idolized across the globe.

The album’s backstory is almost as fascinating as the music and is detailed in a book that accompanies the release. Long story short, Hugh Masekela, the brilliant South African trumpeter, and his business partner organized a massive concert featuring international stars to take place in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (it’s now the Democratic Republic of Congo), in conjunction with the famed boxing match, “the Rumble in the Jungle.”

The music was recorded using state of the art equipment, but languished for years. Some eventually was released in two separate films, but it was mostly footage of the American stars including James Brown and B.B. King that saw the light of day. The Africans were relegated to the cutting floor. That was a shame beyond imagination considering the term and genre “world music” didn’t even exist at the time. Though South African vocalist Makeba played regularly in the United States, Rochereau didn’t get over the ocean until ten years after the concert.

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Ensemble Novo’s Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now in stores now

It takes a certain rhythmic sensibility as well as deftness of musical touch to play Brazilian music especially for non-Brazilians. Saxophonist and flutist Tom Moon achieves both with the latest release, Who Saw You Then, Who Sees You Now, from his Philadelphia-based Ensemble Novo.

Moon approaches this collection of mostly Brazilian standards from the pen of legends like Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque with a strong lyrical focus on his flute work. His interplay with the band, which includes guitarist Ryan McNeely, vibraphonist Behn Gillece, bassist Mark Przybylowski, and percussionist Jim Hamilton, allows plenty of space for the individual players to shine. McNeely is especially brilliant on the vibes, but each musician finds his place in music that by definition requires space.

On “Estate,” a ballad by Bruno Martino and Bruno Brighetti, Moon finds the elusive sweet saxophone sound defined so eloquently by Stan Getz on his classic work with Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Brazilian founder of bossa nova.

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Previously unreleased Wes Montgomery tracks appear on Smokin’ in Seattle, in stores today

In April of 1966, jazz guitar icon Wes Montgomery made appearances with the Wynton Kelly Trio in Seattle, Washington. Those cuts, which appear on Smokin’ In Seattle—Live at the Penthouse on Resonance Records, are finally in wide release after a deluxe limited edition was released last month.

It is only the third commercially released live album of Wes Montgomery with piano legend Wynton Kelly, and was recorded a mere seven months after their classic 1965 live album Smokin’ at the Half Note. Pat Metheny called that effort, “the absolute greatest jazz guitar album ever made.”

Kelly’s dynamic trio featured bassist Ron McClure and the legendary drummer and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb, who is best well-known for his work on Miles Davis’s albums Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, and Someday My Prince Will Come.

Wynton Kelly first collaborated with Wes Montgomery in 1962 with their album Full House (Riverside), also with Jimmy Cobb on drums (McClure joined Wynton Kelly’s trio a few years later in 1965, replacing Paul Chambers), followed by the legendary Smokin’ at the Half Note. Smokin’ in Seattle is a new chapter in the storied collaboration of these two jazz giants.

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Mid City Bayou Boogaloo kicks off tomorrow, 5/19

The fine folks who throw the annual party on Bayou St. John went through the proverbial ringer this year arguing over costs with the city of New Orleans. A compromise was reached and the event will go on as planned as it has every spring since the Hurricane Katrina levee breaks destroyed the Mid City neighborhood and the festival became a harbinger of rebirth. Here’s a look as some of the new bands that are playing. The full schedule is here.

The fest begins at 5 PM on Friday evening with local favorites Tank and the Bangas and legendary funk drummer Zigaboo Modeliste and his Funk Revue. But the band that intrigues me is John the Matyr. They are coming in for the fest from New York and play soul music inspired by James Brown and the other greats. If you’re wondering about their cred, they have opened for the Rebirth Brass Band up north.

On Saturday morning, the Jamaican Me Breakfast Club, a group that could only happen in New Orleans, will open the day. The group mashes up 1980s rock and new wave with reggae. You read that right, and based on recordings on their website and the vid below, they sound great. Though I didn’t realize it when I first heard the band’s name, besides being a pun, it’s a reference to the era-defining Molly Ringwald film.

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Debut from Duende Libre in stores now

More than a few things flew under my radar during the all-encompassing Jazz Fest season. One of the most impressive recordings to cross my path recently is the eponymous debut album from Duende Libre.

The band is a jazz trio led by keyboardist Alex Chadsey and features bassist Farko Dosumov and drummer Jeff “Bongo” Busch. While the format is familiar, the music mines Latin folk traditions and explores the rhythms associated with regions outside of the American jazz canon including Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa.

The compositions range from a song derived from a rhythm the band picked up from a mid 20th-century Cuban record by blind pianist Frank Emilio Flynn to the music of the great Malian griot Salif Keita. Through it all, the entire band grooves.

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TVD Live: Jazz Fest,
The Second Weekend,
5/4–5/7

PHOTOS: EDDY GUTIERREZ | Visitors and locals alike at the second weekend of the 48th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival got a taste of three seasons of New Orleans weather at what is arguably the most inclusive festival in the world. More musical genres than can be named by most casual music fans and every demographic was represented on the stages at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. Thursday felt like winter, Friday and Saturday were spring-like, and Sunday got downright hot.

The Meters closed out the Gentilly stage on Sunday in one of the iconic band’s increasingly more common performances following years of discord among the musicians. Guitarist Leo Nocentelli (pictured at top) along with bassist George Porter, Jr., drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, and keyboardist Art Neville were joined by a full horn section and keyboardist Ivan Neville.

Funk was just one of the many styles on stage at the Jazz Fest. Rhiannon Giddens (pictured above and below) made her second appearance as a solo artist. Her latest recording puts slave narratives from centuries past into a mix of string-based musical styles. Her siren voice and chilling lyrics had some in the tent weeping.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks for the Second Weekend, 5/6–5/7

Saturday is the day that a few of the acts that got rained out last year at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival get another shot at it. At the end of the day, Snoop Dogg and Stevie Wonder will be playing at the same time. Will a record be set for the most crowded day ever? Check back next week for the recap. Here are our picks for the weekend. The full Saturday schedule is here.

Big Chief Victor Harris (pictured at top) of the Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors has been making his unique African-inspired black Indian suits for 50 years. At the downtown Indian parade some weeks back, he told me his intricate work starts with a single stone and he builds out from the center with no written designs or pattern in mind. Check him out and have your mind blown first thing Saturday morning.

On the busiest days at the Fairgrounds, I recommend keeping it intimate. So stick around after the Indians for the Panorama Jazz Band. Led by clarinetist Ben Schenk, these guys play indigenous folk music from all around the world and work the crowd into a dancing frenzy.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day Five, 5/5

The long weekend begins to pick up speed for festers who attend every day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Remember to pace and don’t forget to check out the intimate Cultural Exchange Pavilion where the Jazz Fest salutes Cuba. Here are our picks for Friday, May 5. The full schedule is here.

The colleges of New Orleans have been churning out musicians for decades. Loyola University is becoming known for birthing bands that walk the line between jazz and funk. Naughty Professor is the latest group to gain steam on the scene. Their latest recording, Identity, drops at the end of June.

One can’t-go-wrong Jazz Fest suggestion is to catch some Mardi Gras Indians every day. There are few better than Big Chief “Little” Charles Taylor of the White Cloud Hunters at both singing and sewing. Taylor is a downtown Indian and has been creating incredible three-dimensional suits for many years. His latest may very well be his greatest.

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Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day Four, 5/4

The second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival kicks off at 11 AM Thursday morning. It’s often the least crowded day. It’s easy to navigate around the Fairgrounds, checking out art, food, and other offerings on the infield of the mile long horse-racing track. Here are our picks for Thursday, May 4. The full schedule is here.

COOT has been on the scene for over twenty years playing sporadically around town. This will be their debut at the Jazz Fest. The band is a funky outfit playing original music. Guitarist and songwriter Brian Rueb has a technique reminiscent of the late great Snooks Eaglin.

New Orleans is known for its intergenerational bands. More so than anywhere else in the country, musicians of various ages play together as peers. We are also known for our family bands—members of the same family who make music together as naturally as they break bread. The Chilluns are singular among these ensembles and feature Dave, Darcy, and Johnny Malone, Spencer and Andre Bohren, and Cranston and Annie Clements.

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TVD Live: Jazz Fest,
The First Weekend,
4/28–4/30

PHOTOS: EDDY GUTIERREZ | Bad weather marred the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the second year in a row. Friday and Saturday were windy and cloudy, but massive storms heading from the west forced Sunday’s opening to be pushed back for four hours. The gates opened to a surprisingly robust crowd at 3 PM. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

On Friday, the Soul Brass Band lit up the Lagniappe stage with a crowd-pleasing set that began with a perennial brass band favorite from back in the heyday of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band—“It’s All Over Now.” Trombonist Michael Watson played the whole show with his infant child strapped to his back. The kid seemed to be digging it like the enthusiastic crowd.

Kristin Diable (pictured at top) and Alex McMurray (above) both rocked out on the Gentilly stage. McMurray had Joe Cabral blowing baritone sax, Carlo Nuccio on drums, and Matt Perrine on bass.

Grupo Cuary, one of the numerous Cuban acts in town as the festival celebrates the musical island nation, brought roots chanting and percussion to the newly enlarged international pavilion. With ten musicians and singers, they played shakers, congas, and the box-like cajon while the vocalists encouraged the crowd in call and response.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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