TVD Live: Satchmo Summerfest, 8/4

I only made it out to the grounds of the old U.S. Mint on Saturday, but I managed to catch three full sets of music and half of another. Here’s a look back.

The New Orleans Moonshiners have really come into their own as one of the best of the neo-trad bands on the scene today. With ringers Bruce Brachman on clarinet and Steve Pistorius on piano, they laid down some classic and original tunes with serious chops. Leader and banjoist Chris Edmunds has really developed as a vocalist.

Delfeayo Marsalis stocks his Uptown Orchestra with some serous talent. On the front line alone, Roderick Paulin, who played saxophone on some of the Rebirth Brass Band’s best albums, held down the tenor chair. Rex Gregory, who is often known for his more avant-garde leanings, was actually on clarinet instead of his usual sax.

With Ocie Davis and David Pulphus on drums and bass respectively, the band had power and drive. At one point, Marsalis said we don’t like to read music, an odd statement for a big band leader, and then proceeded to lead the band in doing just that. They were like a locomotive—powerful and focused. They were also aware of the setting and like the New Orleans Philharmonic’s forays out of the classical music bastion of the Theater for the Performing Arts, they didn’t try to impress with difficult arrangements or lesser known songs. They had something for everyone in the crowd.

Drummer Shannon Powell usually powers the Preservation Hall Stars, but on Saturday Ernie Ely was behind the skins. He plays with incredible finesse and is clearly loved by the other, much younger members of the band. Trumpeter William Smith and banjoist Carl LeBlanc took care of the vocals on a set of trad standards with the exception of one tune.

A woman in the crowd was celebrating her birthday and after requesting “Iko, Iko” over and over, the band finally gave her what she wanted. She danced like there was no tomorrow.

I can’t say that for the rest of the crowd, who remained seated for the entire set. While I am still on the fence about he addition of the tents in the audience areas, I can say that they definitely inhibit the crowd from getting up and shaking it.

The sitting didn’t last a song during the Tremé Funktet’s closing set. Led by trombonist Corey Henry (pictured at top), who also played with the Hall Stars, and trumpeter Travis Hill, the band killed on a set that mixed up trad tunes, originals and funk rave-ups.

I hadn’t seen Hill take the lead in a performance since he was a pre-teen and he brought the house down. He led the band on an original, “Trumpet Not Gun” and then chilled the crowd with a down tempo version of the old chestnut, “St. James Infirmary Blues.” The young man can still blown the horn and his vocals were very impressive.

Corey Henry image: Jim Brock

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