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.

With its explosive mix of rumba and Afro-Cuban rhythms and dances, Adonis y Osain del Monte is currently one of the most exciting Afro-Cuban music projects to come out of Havana. The group offers a modern interpretation of traditional Afro-Cuban folklore, blending it with timba, Havana’s Conga parade rhythms and beats from Cuba’s contemporary popular music. They play twice—on the Congo Square stage at 2:05 PM and then they close out the Cuba pavilion.

Two members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the critically acclaimed African-American string band, are playing separately today. If last year is any indication, Leyla McCalla (pictured at top) and Rhiannon Giddens will both put on engaging performances and may very well collaborate. Last year, Giddens joined McCalla on her set.

Giddens has the more prestigious last slot in the Blues Tent. McCalla will be interviewed on the Allison Minor stage and then play at 2:20 PM on the Lagniappe stage. Banjo player and singer Giddens has a large ensemble. Cellist and singer McCalla plays with the very basic accompaniment of acoustic guitar and violin.

Speaking of last year, one of the most powerful jazz sets came from Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective. This band is the latest ensemble from the trumpeter who may be best known for creating the soundtracks for most of Spike Lee’s movies. With this band, he plays politically motivated music that crackles with the youthful energy of his band and allows the musician to speak his mind through his music. This set is not for the faint of heart.

Tomorrow: my weekend picks!

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