Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day One, 4/28

Well, the time we’ve all been waiting for, the first day of the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, is upon us. The festival celebrates the island nation of Cuba this year. I recommend everyone check out the Cuba pavilion for dance and folkloric demonstrations as well as intimate musical performances. As usual, I won’t be highlighting too many of the major acts, but trying to hip you to bands and musicians you may not know about. The full schedule for Friday, April 28 is here.

Start your day at the Acura stage for a set by the Batiste Fathers and Sons. The Batistes are one of the many musical families in New Orleans and this new band features three generations. Headed by Louisiana Hall of Fame inductee and New Orleans funk pioneer David Batiste (David Batiste and The Gladiators), the band includes his sons Damon, Russell, Ryan, and Jamal Batiste and his grandson Christopher Prosper Batiste.

The Soul Brass Band is one of the newest brass bands in the city. But the group has many familiar faces including drummers Aron Lambert and Derrick Freeman and saxophonist James Martin. They play every style of brass as well as some unusual cover songs.

After a few hours on your feet, head over to the Jazz Tent for Trumpet Mafia. I have seen this band, which is led by Ashlin Parker, each time they have played at the fest. They feature at least eleven (!) trumpeters and a killin’ rhythm section. Expect special guests from among the many trumpeters who are in town for the fest.

Mokoomba of Zimbabwe is one of the bands on the top of my must-see list. If you like African dance music, you’re going to love this band. They have been around for over a decade and mix the traditional sounds of the Tonga people of Zimbabwe with other African rhythms touched with elements of Afro-Cuban and Jamaican music.

The last act of the day is always a tough call. The first Friday is no exception. Since I am a fan of brass band music and the way it has managed to integrate into and influence other genres, I am recommending checking out rap legend Nas with one of New Orleans’ finest brass bands, The Soul Rebels.

Tomorrow—our weekend picks.

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