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.

The cut, “Stray,” with Shaw and DeGenova, stands out on an album with plenty of strong vocals. Shaw has had a powerful voice since the early days of the Revivalists, but here he shows his chops as a plaintive soul singer.

I have seen Sexy Dex and the Fresh a couple of times and wondered both times where in the world has Dexter Gilmore been? With a stage presentation that clearly shows his debt of gratitude to Prince, his vocal and visual similarity to the late great icon never comes across as an affectation.

Clearly, the fellows in Naughty Professor have an eye for young talent. Gilmore’s lead vocals on “I Can’t Sleep At Night” are some of the strongest on the album. On “Darker Daze,” his backing vocals add light to a serious conscious rap by Chali 2na.

Throughout, the instrumentalists in the band shine. The horn section is on fire playing well-thought-out, super tight arrangements and adding stellar solos. This is a strong album, which reflects the band’s growth and matches their high-energy stage show.

Naughty Professor plays a free album release show at Tipitina’s tonight before heading back on the road spreading the new gospel of new New Orleans funk.

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