Category Archives: TVD New Orleans

Naughty Professor’s
new album Identity in stores today, 6/23

I have been watching funky, jazzy, horn-heavy ensemble Naughty Professor develop as a band for several years. With the release of Identity they have finally come into their own as the newest direction of New Orleans funk. The album drops today.

What makes this album so exciting is the band has enlisted a wide range of artists to help create their vision. The group of musicians includes well-known names like legendary hip-hop artist Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 and keyboardist and vocalist Ivan Neville. It also includes up and comers from New Orleans including Dexter Gilmore of the hot new band, Sexy Dex and the Fresh.

Elsewhere on the album, David Shaw of the Revivalists, trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom of Lettuce, and percussion master Mike Dillon make appearances. Add guitarist Cliff Hines, vocalist Sasha Masakowski, keyboardist Jason Butler, pianist and singer Cole DeGenova, vocalist Mykia Jovan, and even Cuban percussionist Alexey Marti on various cuts and you have a recipe for an overstuffed disaster. But it turns out the album is a stunning collection; each tune fits together into the larger picture like a complex dish.

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Three masters: Mooney, Stone, and Dillon for the Little Gem Saloon, 6/23

The Little Gem Saloon, one of the oldest live music venues in New Orleans, has occasionally been presenting interesting combinations of musicians since they re-reopened a few years back. This Friday night, three master players, Delta slide devotee John Mooney, six-string slinger Marc Stone, and percussion virtuoso Mike Dillon, will come together for an evening of acoustic blues and New Orleans music.

John Mooney was once called “more possessed of the spirit of the blues than any man alive,” by none other than Bonnie Raitt. He learned directly from the great bluesman Son House and therefore has a link to the beginnings of one of the most quintessential of American sounds.

Marc Stone has been digging into the blues for decades as a bandleader, solo performer and sympathetic sideman. His most recent project teamed him with a who’s who of New Orleans music to play the great 1960s funk music of the legendary Eddie Bo. The band, dubbed the New Soul Finders after Bo’s old band, features players who either played with Bo or were directly influenced by him. I saw a recent set at the Little Gem and was struck by how the musicians’ uncanny ability to play Bo’s music blended seamlessly with their own musical personalities and other influences.

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Kudzu Kings reuniting for acoustic show at Chickie Wah Wah, 6/16

For close to ten years, from 1994 to 2003, the Oxford, Mississippi-based band was at the forefront of the nascent alt-country movement. After losing founding member George McConnell to Widespread Panic, the group went on hiatus while still playing the occasional show when the stars aligned. McConnell has been back in the fold and will be playing the gig.

The Kudzu Kings were regulars on the New Orleans club circuit, but their show at Chickie Wah Wah on Friday night will be their first local appearance in years. Their sound is a compelling mix of bluegrass, country, and good ole rock ‘n’ roll. They will be playing acoustic. Fellow alt-country musician Cary Hudson of the Piney Woods Players will open with a solo set and is expected to sit in with the band.

Numerous musicians have gone through the Kudzu Kings over the years. The three constants, who will all be appearing Friday night, are guitarist and vocalist Tate Moore, keyboardist Robert Chaffe, and bassist and vocalist Dave Woolworth. Woolworth’s name will be familiar to locals following the controversy over the city’s noise ordinance. He is a well-respected sound engineer who was hired by the city to assess sound levels at local clubs and make recommendations on the parameters of the ordinance, which incidentally, appears to have been tabled indefinitely by the city council.

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Elizabeth Cook brings Exodus of Venus, solo acoustic, to Chickie Wah Wah, 6/7

Since TVD is taking a break next week, I thought I would hip our readers to a great show next Wednesday at Chickie Wah Wah. Elizabeth Cook is a critically acclaimed, bold, and often brilliant Nashville singer-songwriter and country music outlaw, She is appearing solo; playing her acoustic guitar. Show time is 10 PM. Discounted advance tickets are available here.

The Florida native made her debut at the Grand Old Opry in 2000. But it was two appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman in late 2011 and 2012 that put her in the national spotlight. She ultimately appeared four times on the late night legend’s show before his retirement. Cook also hosts the morning radio show Elizabeth Cook’s Apron Strings on the Sirius XM radio station Outlaw Country.

Known for her wry songwriting skills and her ribald sense of humor (she released a song called, “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman”), Cook went through another rough stretch in a private life strewn with interpersonal issues before emerging with the new song collection. She says, “If anything, (the new album) is a pledge of allegiance for the bad girls and the homecoming queens who got caught in a scandal. It’s a bill of rights and a testimony for those good girls who got away with more than they should have.”

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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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