Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day Six, 5/3

Get ready for the home stretch. With eight days of festing, pacing is in order. The second Friday of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is packed with great bands. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.

A few years back Jazz Fest brought in a group from the African country of Benin and they promptly blew peoples’ minds with their elaborate dance styles, frenetic percussion, and outrageous costumes. This year another group from of Benin, 3L Ifèdé, will kick off the Gentilly stage on the second Friday. I couldn’t find out much info as all of their publicity materials are in French, but suffice it to say that this group will be well worth checking out.

Cellist Leyla McCalla has been putting on amazing sets at the Jazz Fest since her first solo appearance back in 2012. But all of those performances were on the Lagniappe stage with its restricted views and seated crowds. This year, she has graduated to the Fais Do Do stage. I expect a huge crowd, so get there early.

Leo Nocentelli played with the Meters at the first Jazz Fest 50 years ago. He lived in Los Angeles for decades but is back home in New Orleans. This should be a chance for the guitarist to really show off his skills on a day when two other acclaimed, but much younger guitarists, Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Gary Clark, Jr., follow him on the Gentilly stage.

A little bit of trivia—Nocentelli is conspicuously missing from the images of musicians on this year’s Jazz Fest poster. Rumor has it that he refused to sign the release and so is not depicted along with his bandmates in the Meters.

Wanna see twenty or more trumpeters on one stage? Check out Trumpet Mafia in the Jazz Tent. Their sets never fail to amaze as bandleader Ashlin Parker conducts what can only be described as a gigantic trumpet orchestra.

Perhaps the act I am most looking forward to over the course of the entire Jazz Fest is Kamasi Washington (pictured at top). Though the acclaimed “hipster” trumpeter (I’m only calling him that because he’s gotten a lot of young people to actually listen and dance to jazz) has been playing night shows around Jazz Fest for a couple of years. This is his first time at the Fairgrounds. Not to be missed.

The Iceman Special couldn’t be more different musically than Washington, except for the fact that they both have diehard fans. This is their first time playing at the Fairgrounds as well and though there are bigger, more well-known bands in the last time slot, I strongly recommend these up-and-comers.

Tomorrow: Our second weekend picks!

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