Satchmo SummerFest: Weekend Picks, 8/5–8/6

The second floor of the Old U.S. Mint opens on the weekend with live music and dance lessons, while the two outdoor stages feature music from noon–9 PM on Saturday and from noon–8 PM on Sunday, culminating in the eagerly anticipated Trumpet Tribute to Louis Armstrong with Kermit Ruffins and a who’s who of other trumpeters. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

Start Saturday off with Joe Lastie’s New Orleans Sound featuring Kid Merv. Lastie is a drummer and member of another of the city’s famed musical families. Kid Merv is the one and only Mervin Campbell—a trumpeter and longtime devotee of trad jazz and Louis Armstrong.

John Boutte is a singer of uncommon grace. He may be best known these days for the theme song of the HBO show Treme, but his work in New Orleans goes back decades and he is comfortable with a wide range of styles.

Leroy Jones is another trumpeter that is a longtime devotee of trad jazz and Louis Armstrong. His style is rooted in the music he learned as a youngster under the tutelage of the great Danny Barker. The line from Armstrong through Barker to Jones is unerring.

The closing acts on Saturday veer considerably from strict adherence to traditional music and music influenced by or inspired by Armstrong. But “Pops” would most likely have it no other way.

Bill Summers is a percussionist par excellence and his band Jazalsa reaches for connections between jazz and Caribbean music. Given Summers’ resume as a master of music of the African diaspora, I’m sure he will find a way to tie his band into the mission of the festival.

Corey Henry is the leader and the trombone player in the Tremé Funktet. While the music is high energy and funky, Henry’s earliest influences include listening to the music of Armstrong and studying the rapport he had with his trombone-playing musical foils.

Two instruments that were integral to the sounds of early jazz, but are often relegated to historical status in today’s jazz, take center stage on Sunday.

Evan Christopher’s Clarinet Road features the leader on a program of music that is bound to impress. Christopher (pictured at top) has taken the city of New Orleans and its music around the world with his velvet tone and command of the repertoire.

The same can be said for New Orleans native Don Vappie. He leads his band, the Creole Jazz Serenaders, on banjo. A jocular performer, he is also a wealth of information and often introduces songs with light banter and stories about their origins. If we’re lucky he’ll sing a couple in Creole patois.

Sunday also finds three piano players as leaders. Ellis Marsalis, the patriarch of the musical family, educator, and modern jazz legend hits at 4 PM. The indoor space on the second floor of the mint features Tom McDermott and Lawrence Cotton back to back. You can’t go wrong with either.

In the middle of the day on the Cornet Chop Suey stage (3–4 PM), trumpeter Ashlin Parker presents his Trumpet Mafia in their SummerFest debut. This group bears some explanation since they are not, as far as I know, connected in any way to organized crime.

Parker has created arrangements for a huge number of trumpet players backed by a basic rhythm section. Both times I have seen the band, I couldn’t even count all of trumpeters but suffice it to say it was in excess of ten. With so many trumpeters already on site, they could set a record.

Finally, while many people will be drawn to the aforementioned Trumpet Tribute, don’t miss at least part of the set by the Original Pinettes Brass Band. The all-female ensemble was initially perceived as a novelty in the male-dominated brass band world—but they bring it!

Check back next weekend for recaps and photos.

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