Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jazzfest Leg 1 @ Fairgrounds 5/6/12

It's nice how the schedule was filled with so many local NOLA bands.

I started with a little Lynn Drury as I was curious.  It was good although I wouldn't need a whole set.

I went by Supagroup, which I've always wondered about.  It's not my thing.

Mem Shannon & the Membership Band are always great NOLA Blues. 
Mem Shannon & the Membership Band (Blues)
A musician since childhood, Mem Shannon hung up his guitar and clarinet after his father died in 1981; he began driving a cab to help his family pay bills. But in 1995, he got his break and recorded A Cab Driver’s Blues, which includes snippets of taxicab confessions from his long career. 

Gregory Agid was enjoyable in the Jazz Tent.

I enjoyed a bit of Tanya & Dorise.
Tanya & Dorise (Acoustic/Fusion)
These noted street performers have gained a following thanks to Tanya Huang’s mesmerizing electric violin. She and guitarist Dorise Blackman have released several guitar and violin duo albums and perform regularly on the famed Royal Street in the French Quarter.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jazzfest Leg 3 @ Fairgrounds 5/5/12

I loved Bombino of Niger at the Blues Stage.  I remember nothing about it but I put a star next to it on the schedule.
Omara "Bombino" Moctar, whose given name is Goumar Almoctar, was born on January 1st, 1980 in Tidene, Niger, an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs located about 80 kilometers to the northeast of Agadez. He is a member of the Ifoghas tribe, which belongs to the Kel Air Tuareg federation. His father is a car mechanic and his mother takes care of the home, as is the Tuareg tradition. Bombino was raised as a Muslim and taught to consider honor, dignity and generosity as principal tenets of life.

It looks like I'm not alone in giving it a star:


I saw a little more of Mariachi Jalisco (from Leg 2) in the Kids Tent.  I thought it was a good idea to have them there.

I saw a little of Steve Earl & the Dukes at the Fais Do-Do Stage.  It was quite crowded. Good music, though.

I finished the day with the phenomenal Guitar Masters at the Lagniappe Stage.  I got the feeling it was a replacement for Twangarama and I need to investigate (see below).
Guitar Masters feat. Jimmy
Robinson, John Rankin, Phil
DeGruy, and Cranston Clements
(Rock) Phil DeGruy, who plays the frankensteined “guitarp;” Jimmy Robinson, whose influences run from country to flamenca; John Rankin, master of “fingerstyle” playing; and bluesmaster Cranston Clements join forces to form the New Orleans Guitar Masters, a synthesis of stringed virtuosity.


Yes, it looks like the same guys as Twangorama, but they aren't just twanging.  It was awesome!

Twangorama has become well known throughout New Orleans over the past several years.  Its members, however, have not only been known, but respected and sought after for much longer.  Jimmy Robinson, leader of the progressive rock band Woodenhead, formed string-heavy Twangorama in the late 90s.  Robinson partnered with his friend Cranston Clements, and then teamed up with Phil deGruy.  Any one of these gentlemen is arguably the best guitarist in the city, but together, they are indisputably the best collection of string pickers in the South.  The band’s talent doesn’t end there, as it is rounded out with Robinson’s Woodenhead bandmates bassist Paul Clement and drummer Mark Whitaker.
    The band’s performances have been described in blogs as a “guitorgy,” which may be one of the more apt descriptions.   The collective virtuosos compose and arrange original work, but also take over classics from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin.  Even their “covers” are inventive and original.  Meticulously coordinated melodies and synchronized harmonies of the guitars will stun even the most particular of guitar aficionados.  Twangorama’s originality extends to their instruments as well.  Phil deGruy occasionally plays a 17-string guitar/harp hybrid.
    Don’t be surprised if a special guest or two shows up to join Twangorama’s set.  Guest artists are frequent at the band’s Thursday night Carrollton Station shows, including Dave Malone and Camille Badouin of the Radiators, Astral Project’s Tom Dagradi, and guitarist June Yamagishi.  Clement alone has performed with artists such as Dr. John, Boz Skaggs, George Porter, Jr. and Irma Thomas, to name a few.  In a nutshell, New Orleans born and bred Twangorama should be on every guitar lover’s must-see list for Jazz Fest.
–Rick Stedman

Jazzfest Leg 2 @ Fairgrounds 5/5/12

The Blues Tent listed Mac Arnold & the Plate Full of Blues but what drew me in was Joe Krown, Russell Batiste, and Walter Wolfman Washington.  They were scheduled for the next day.  I don't know what happened, because I found a youtube video of Mac Arnold, so they played a different slot. Washington/Batiste/Krown were great.
The Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste Jr. (Funk/R&B) This allstar, New Orleans group with Krown on organ, Washington on guitar and vocals and Batiste on drums and background vocals digs into some grooves. Each a leader of their own fine groups, they offer a different blend in this configuration.
Latest album: Triple Threat.

Mariachi Jalisco caused me to pause at the Jazz & Heritage Stage for a little bit.  I was especially caught by the violin.  Aha, I see from the jazzfest listing there some Cuban elements.

El Mariachi Jalisco born in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year in the entire state of louisiana mariachi not exist until then, its members decided to start again a musical work they did in his native Cuba,
 All of its members with more than 10 years of experience in the traditional Mexican genre began presentations, social events, festivals and parties after the Latin Festival in Baton Rouge and fundamental social events in the area.

 All its members are graduates of different conservatories in Havana City, Cuba, and all are descendants of Jalisco Mariachi Havana Cuba, this mariachi in Havana began its work with Mexican music on your resume this part 10 times the International Mariachi Festival in Guadalajara City, a video with the famous singer Placido Domingo, as well as television appearances in Cuba, Mexico and broadcast in different countries of Latin America and the United States.

 Currently working on recording his first CD where Mexican music also intended to record music a fusion of Latin music and traditional jazz of New Orleans


I love Kora Connection.  I was thinking about going out to St. Claude that night to catch a night show.  I didn't end up making it out to any more night shows, but this jazzfest portion was great.
Kora Konnection is an exotic blend of West African mandinka music and jazz improvisation. The band is led by two griots (oral historians): Morikeba Kouyate, kora (African harp) master from Senegal, and Thierno Dioubate, balafon and djembe master from Guinea.
Kora Konnection is also blessed to have the two finest jazz musicians in the city of New Orleans,Tim Green saxophone and James Singleton acoustic bass. Kora Konnection's architect and African percussionist, Jeff “Papafrog” Klein is the heartbeat of the ensemble. A combination of traditional West African music and Acoustic Jazz, Kora Konnection’s unique sound spans the cultures of two continents.


Anders was good for a bit.  I've really enjoyed his club shows lately, and the part I saw at the fest wasn't quite as good.  It was nice to see him with Eric Bolivar, though.  I missed the strings portion, which looked great on that 3rd youtube video below.


Big Sam' Funky Nation had me dancing for a bit.

I loved Tommy Sancton's N.O. Legacy Band.  I read a little about them in Where Y'at when I got back.  I like how he's working with younger musician and keeping trad jazz fresh.
jazzfest listing:
The New Orleans Legacy Band is a group with strong roots in the past and a reach towards the future. Three of us, Clive Wilson, Lars Edegran and myself, learned to play traditional jazz at the feet of the old masters: the legendary group of elderly black musicians who led the so called jazz “revival” centered around Preservation Hall and Dixieland Hall in the 1960s. We were the eager apprentices of such greats as George Lewis, Kid Howard, Kid Thomas, Sweet Emma Barrett, Billie and Dede Pierce, Percy and Willie Humphrey, Papa French, and, of course, Harold Dejan and his Olympia Brass Band. Today we are in our sixties, roughly the age group of our mentors of yesteryear. But lest anyone despair over the future of this music, the successor generation is well represented on this album in the persons of Jason Marsalis, 33, Ronell Johnson, 34, and Kerry Lewis, 37. Our band illustrates the power of New Orleans music to reach out and touch people around the world. Young Clive Wilson heard its call in London, via Bunk Johnson’s 1940s recordings. Over in Stockholm, Lars Edegran was turned on to the New Orleans sound by his father and brother, both jazz musicians, and by friends who introduced him to the American Music sides recorded by Bill Russell. Like many other young Europeans in those years—I call them the “jazz pilgrims”—they came to New Orleans to learn at the source. They hung out at the jazz halls, ate red beans at Buster’s, sat in with Dejan’s Olympia Band on countless parades and funerals, and were welcomed onto the homes and hearts of the old masters they had come to learn from. Unlike most of the “pilgrims” who eventually returned home, Clive and Lars put down roots here and, in time, became active members of the local jazz scene. My own story is a little different. I grew up here—an uptown, middle-class white boy who, in those Jim Crow days, had little contact with the African American community that had created this wonderful music. That all changed one summer night in 1962: my father took me to Preservation Hall and opened my eyes and ears to the artistry of the veteran jazzmen who played there. I was smitten with the sound of George Lewis’s clarinet and decided to try to play like him. I took lessons with George, trumpeter Punch Miller, and banjoist Creole George Guesnon , sat in with them at the Hall, played parades with the Olympia and learned the trade as they had learned it: master to apprentice. The only problem was that I was virtually alone among young local musicians. It seemed that no one of my generation, white or black, was interested in traditional jazz in those years. And without a successor generation, the music of New Orleans—as we knew it—was headed for extinction. Fortunately, some younger members of the African American community finally became aware of their own musical heritage. Three of them, Jason, Ronell and Kerry, now play regularly with us at Preservation Hall and the Palm Court Jazz Café, and add their considerable talent and energy to this album. Drummer Jason Marsalis is the youngest scion of a famous jazz family, headed by jazz pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, that also includes trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford and trombonist Delfeayo. Kerry Lewis, a First Lieutenant in the Louisiana National Guard, is one of the city’s most in-demand bassists and tuba players. Trombonist Ronell Johnson, like Kerry a graduate of Saint Augustine High School, is a multitalented musician who also plays trumpet, tuba, piano, organ, sings—and has even impersonated Santa Claus at the Riverwalk shopping center! 

"Although Sancton (clarinet) and bandmates Clive Wilson (trumpet) and Lars Edegran (piano) are now in their sixties, they have recruited "the next generation" - drummer Jason Marsalis, trombonist Ronell Johnson and bassist Kerry Lewis, all thirtysomethings - to play in the Legacy Band and carry on the New Orleans jazz tradition."

Jazzfest Leg 1 @ Fairgrounds 5/5/12

I started with the phenomenal Roland Guerin in the Jazz Tent.  I've only ever seen this great bass player in NOLA.  I would think he would tour with someone at some point.  He plays with the likes of Jason Marsalis and Shannon Powell.  Hisown ensemble is really good.
Roland Guerin, bass
Kyle Roussel, piano
Quamon Fowler, sax
Ashlin Parker, trumpet
Joe Dyson, drums
?, guitar
jazzfest listing:
Roland Guerin grew up in a musical family.  He first learned music from his mother, a bass player who taught him that you can’t make it in music without a strong groove and feeling.

Roland studied Marketing at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where he joined legendary jazz educator Alvin Batiste’s Band, The Jazztronauts.  He later began to tour the world as a member of jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield's band.  During that time Guerin explored the jazz genre; which ultimately proved to be an avenue toward success.  He had the opportunity to perform with such greats as George Benson, Jimmy Scott, Frank Morgan, Vernel Fournier, and Gerry Mulligan.  In the meantime, he also participated to the recording of several albums with other artists including Ellis Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, and Allen Toussaint.

In 1991, Guerin explored his spiritual side, as he was given a vision to build a new instrument.  The result: a one-of-a-kind acoustic hollow bodied, arched top and back, six string bass guitar, crafted by luthier Salvador Giardina.  This instrument enables Roland to write music for an entire spectrum of genres including pop, rock, R&B, classical, folk, and country.

Roland made his debut as a bandleader in 1998 with The Winds of the New Land,  a record acclaimed for its innovative style of composition and arrangement.  He released four successful albums in the next decade (see discography), recently followed by A Different World in September 2011.  This new album features Terrence Higgins (d), Mike Esneault (p), Khris Royal (s), Shane Theriot (g), Denis Williams (s) and Bill Summers (perc).

From 1994 to 2010 Roland was a member of the Marcus Roberts Trio, with which he had the opportunity to perform at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.  They also regularly performed as a jazz trio enhanced by symphony orchestras.

When he is not performing with his band, Roland Guerin tours and performs with Allen Toussaint and also enjoys occasional performances with the Brian Blade Fellowship Band.  In the late summer of 2009, Guerin had the pleasure to tour with John Scofield and the Piety Street band, with fellow New Orleanians Shannon Powell and Jon Cleary.  They made audiences groove to revisited Gospel tunes in Israel, Japan, Switzerland, etc...

When he is not touring, Roland is  very active on the New Orleans music scene, where he performs in all genres with such artists  as Herlin Riley, Dr. Michael White, Germaine Bazzle, Shannon Powell, Leah Chase, and Ellis Marsalis.


I enjoyed a little country from Sam Doores & the Tumbleweeds.

jazzfest listing:
Sam Doores & The Tumbleweeds (from New Orleans, Louisiana) reach a bit further back into Americana history to earlier blues, gospel, folk, and country. Here you’ll find the call and response style field song (“I Got Found”) to foot stompin’ country (“Passing Through”), to 60’s folk style with a doowappin’ guitar (“Depression Blues” – based on “I’m So Depressed” by Abner Jay). This is modern day honky tonk stylings at its best.


I also loved the Voices of Peter Claver in the Gospel Tent.  I loved the rhythm.


Davina & the Vagabonds in the Blues Tent were good.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The A.M. Sessins @ HOB Parish 5/4/12

I bought a ticket that day, on my way to the fest.  I got there at 2am and they got started at around 2:30/2:45.  They did all Old School covers and a couple of Johnny Vidocavich originals.  It was a great show.  George had played with the Original Meters at Howlin Wolf earlier, so he was pretty tired.  I only know because at around 4:00 or so, he said he had one more in him.  It was a great show.

I haven't listened to this yet, but here is the show minus the first 10 minutes:

WHO: , , , and
WHEN: Late Night Saturday, May 6 @ 2 a.m.
WHERE: Parish Room – 229 Decatur Street
TICKETS: $30 (Buy)
WHY: Last year Benevento and George Porter Jr. got together for an early May late nighter (along with Brian Stoltz and Adam Deitch), the show was THE culmination of Jazz Fest, and this too will undoubtedly appeal to hardcore fans and casual music listeners alike. I’d take a ticket to this supergroup over The Avengers any day. Simply put, magic happens when Benevento and George Porter Jr. get together. A year ago that magic took the form of some mind-blowing improvisations as well as a wide range of jam-worthy covers including Hendrix’s “Fire,” Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You,” and War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” This year Eric Krasno (of Lettuce and Soulive) and Maple Leaf legend Johnny Vidacovich will be grooving on guitar and drums. Plus, Johnny V’s family is known to bring cookies and share with the audience. I can not think of a better way to round out a Jazz Fest experience. See you in the Parish Room.

Here's my post from last year, which I admit was even better than this year

Jazzfest @ Fairgrounds Leg 4 5/4/12

Mystikal was a lot of fun with the special guest horn section that included Ben Ellis.  The only problem was the guy kept talking in between songs and that was a buzzkill for me after a while.  No big deal since there was plenty of great music going on elsewhere.


I enjoyed Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic in the Jazz Tent.  I'm reading the nola.com review and I didn't realize that was Ingrid Jensen up there on trumpet. 
"The rest of the band was pretty amazing, too. Ingrid Jensen delivered razor sharp lines on trumpet. Bassist Mimi Jones throbbed and swayed with oceanic gravitas. Helen Sung offered bop-inflected runs on the grand piano and shimmering, chime-like effects from an electronic keyboard. Tia Fuller, the music director for Esperanza Spalding, showed her snaking, tart approach to alto sax for the second day in a row at the Fair Grounds. Singer Niki Harris radiated sensuality, unleashing long legato phrases to great effect on Al Green's "Something Beautiful." Did anyone catch the name of the guitarist? The sole male in the band, he was adept at stoking fire under the other players. "

Sarah Jarosz at the Fais Do-Do tent was awesome.  I actually bought a CD.  I love it.  She plays mandolin, octave mandolin, clawhammer banjo and guitar and sings  It reminds me of Abigail Washburn, which tells you how limited my experience is in this genre.

"Standing on stage with just two other musicians - the equally impressive Alex Hargreaves on violin and Nathaniel Smith on cello - the 20-year-old multi-instrumentalist put on a show of orchestral quality."

I ended the day with a little Mavis Staples.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jazzfest Leg 3 @ Fairgrounds 5/4/12

I met someone at the Flamenco set who loved it as much as I did.  He mentioned he might not be able to follow Marcia Ball after that.  I realized that was true for me, too.  So I went to Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers and loved it.  At first, I was just going to walk through slowly.  But, it sounded really good and then the Bonerama Horns came on and I found a spot on the lawn by some friends.  I moved on when the horns did.

The Noisemakers consists of bassist J.V. Collier (who has played with Hornsby 17 years), keyboardist/organist John “JT” Thomas (21 years), saxophonist flutist Bobby Read (18 years), guitarist/mandolin player Doug Derryberry (13 years) and drummer Sonny Emory (the relative newcomer of the bunch, nine years).  Released eleven years after Here Come The Noisemakers, a double-CD live document of the group’s early years (with original drummer Michael Baker), Bride Of The Noisemakers is a powerful expression of how the group sounds today.


I did go by the Pedrito Martinez Group.  They were good.  I just know I can see them in NY, so I wasn't compelled to stay too long.

Wanda Rouzan & a Taste of New Orleans was good in the Blues Tent. 
Wanda Rouzan & A Taste of New Orleans (New Orleans R&B)
Hailed as the “Sweetheart of New Orleans,” Rouzan is one of the Crescent City’s premier vocalists and musical ambassadors, both as an educator and leader of the group A Taste of New Orleans. With a career spanning 50 years, she fuses jazz and blues, funk and soul into a “jump-on-your-feet and sing-along” music revival. 

I also enjoyed a little of Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band at the Fais Do Do Stage.
THE BRUCE DAIGREPONT CAJUN BAND--comprised of accordion, fiddle and a tight rhythm section--mixes traditional Louisiana French music with original Cajun and Zydeco material. Both New Orleans natives and tourists alike catch Bruce and his band at the legendary Tipitina's for the Sunday evening Fais Do Do.

Fairgrounds Leg 2 5/4/12

This was a very enjoyable hour.  I was in Bliss with Baritone Bliss in the Jazz Tent.  Shannon Powell was on drums.  Mari Watanabe was on piano.  It was phenomenal.
Baritone Bliss (Jazz) Conceived
by Dirty Dozen Brass Band cofounder Roger Lewis, the shows bring together saxophone masters Lewis, Tony Dagradi, Calvin Johnson and Tim Green, each on a baritone and Dan Oestricher on bass sax. 


That was followed by my favorite of the day, John Lawrence & Ven Pa'Ca Flamenco Ensemble.  I'm pretty sure I saw them last year and loved it just as much.  I really need to try to find them somewhere else.  I found the usual suspects on Leticia Jimenez, the dancer's website.  I didn't realize that great sax was Robert Wagner.
VEN PA' CA (featuring John Lawrence, Leticia Jimenez, Dave Sobel, and Rob Wagner)


Fairgrounds Leg 1 5/4/12

I thoroughly enjoyed Big Al Carson & the Blues Masters.  He was actually the 1st musician I saw my very first trip to NOLA in Sept 2001.  It was a work trip and my colleague and I were checking out Bourbon St looking for music.  I hadn't learned how to find music yet.  A few days later I saw a band with the word "funk" in it, Papa Grows Funk playing at the Maple Leaf and I got some other colleagues to come out with me.  THAT was a great night.

I also enjoyed the Kumbuka African Dance & Drum Collective.  They had some Mardis Gras Indian type attire.
Kumbuka African Drum & Dance Collective is Louisiana's premiere African dance company. Kumbuka is dedicated to the preservation, presentation, documentation and research of traditional African and African American folklore. Kumbuka performs regularly with schools, festivals, prisons, and special events. Kumbuka celebrated its 30th Year Anniversary Concert in November at the Contemporary Art Center. Kumbuka's repertoire includes Dance de Calinda (Dances of Congo Square) Haitian dance, West African dance and dances of the Black Indians of New Orleans.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fairgrounds Final Leg 5/3/12

On my way from Henry to Regina I kept getting caught by the sounds coming from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Acura stage.  I was walking around the racetrack to get there.  I kept having to stop and dance as I was making my way.  They were incredible.

Esperanza Spalding was very late getting started.  I finally realized I needed to come back for her.  I did stop back later and reinforced that her music isn't for me, or at least not this album.

I got to see a little more of Cheick Hamala Diabate at the Lagniappe stage.  Recall he was at the Jazz & Heritage Stage way back in leg 1.

I love Astral Project.  I only got a little but it was awesome.
Astral Project (Modern Jazz)
Offering great modern jazz for the last 32 years, Astral Project boasts an all-star membership with saxophonist Tony Dagradi, bassist James Singleton, drummer Johnny Vidacovich and guitarist Steve Masakowski. Always a stunning set in the Jazz Tent.

I walked by Jimmy Buffet's acoustic set and I liked it.  I was surprised because a work friend made me a Buffet mix CD a few years ago - the 1st time he played Jazzfest since I've been going (11 fests for me now).  I didn't like that CD so much.

I briefly walked by Florence and the Machine out of curiosity.  I don't get it.

I was wearing out when I heard great drumming coming from the Kids Tent.  I had to go in and dance for a bit.  There were no stilt walkers at that time but it was listed as African Dance Company and Stilt Walkers. The drummers were all adults.
Culu Childrens Traditional African Dance Company has performed at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the past 21 years!!!! A FAVORITE of Young as well as Old, Culu brings to the stage TRADITIONAL AFRICAN FOLKLORE featuring their teachers who are born and raised in Africa!!!! This is an ALL CHILDREN PERFORMING FOLKLORE COMPANY.

It was so good to be back!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Regina Carter @ Fairgrounds 5/3/12

This was my absolute favorite.  Regina is so impressive.  I remember when she and John Zorn were the 2 recipients of an experimental music grant.  I didn't know much about her and never really followed up my curiosity until now.  I see why they give her grants and awards.

This ensemble was phenomenal.  I loved having a kora for many songs.  There was also Will Holtzhouser on accordion.  I was surprised to discover the CD came out in 2010.  I still haven't gotten a hold of it, but soon.

When preeminent violinist Regina Carter made the decision to record an album primarily
of African folk tunes, she created a great challenge for herself: how do you take beautiful
traditional music and infuse it with a contemporary feel while remaining true to its past
— and then, not compromise its beauty? Her newest release, Reverse Thread, due out on
E1 Entertainment on May 18th brilliantly responds to the challenge.
To achieve the uplifting and stirring result, Regina added an accordion and kora—the
West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers—to her longstanding
rhythm section. Kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko was brought on board to help recreate the
spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The result—unlike anything
previously heard—is a haunting and beautiful compliment to Regina’s sumptuously
seductive violin.

Without the support of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation, which “awards
unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals,” Reverse Thread might never have been
realized. As a MacArthur Fellow — a recipient of what is commonly known as the
“genius grant” — Carter was armed with the funds and the freedom to follow her muse.
Regina turned to the World Music Institute in New York City, in which she found a
diverse and inspirational resource for material, including ethnographic field recordings.
Regina looked not just to the music, but also the accompanying sounds and nuances of
everyday life from anthropological and sociological perspectives which informed the
spirit of the new arrangements.

“There is an immense amount of amazing music coming from all around the world, much
of which is barely accessible,” emphasized Regina. “Reverse Thread gave me the
opportunity to explore and celebrate a tiny portion of music that moved me.”
Both "Hiwumbe Awumba" and "Mwana Talitambula" are based on field recordings from
the Ugandan Jews, a community in eastern Uganda who although are not genetically or
historically Jewish, practice the Jewish religion. Setting the inspirational tone for the
album, the first track “Hiwumbe Awumba” originates from a field recording of a group
singing, “God creates and then He destroys.” Although the title is dark, the uplifting
quality and spirit of the voice on the recording inspired Regina, and the final arrangement
is a paean to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Using the field recording of a woman singing “Mwana Talitambula” as a departure point,
Regina’s bass player Chris Lightcap split the melody between the violin and bass with a
hypnotically emotive result.

Reverse Thread also embraces music of the African Diaspora. As but one example, “Un
Aguinaldo” skillfully layers the rhythmic aspects of African music with harmonies
originating in India and Puerto Rico.

Through her albums, incessant touring and various guest appearances and collaborations,
Regina has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. She has repeatedly
toured throughout the world, was the first jazz artist and African American to play
Niccolo Paganini’s famed Guarneri “Cannon” violin, has been featured with several
symphony orchestras and performed with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn
Hill, Billy Joel, Kenny Barron and Mary J. Blige.
With Reverse Thread, Regina takes a giant step forward by making a meaningful musical
contribution on her own terms.


Fairgrounds Leg 4 5/3/12

Dayna Kurtz was good.  It was more mellow than I wanted in that moment, but I did enjoy a couple of songs.



Henry Butler was great at the Congo Square Stage.  It was similar to his shows I've seen at the jazz clubs in NYC.
Henry Butler, in the colorful words of fellow Big Easy legend Dr. John, “is the pride of New Orleans and a visionistical down-home cat and a hellified piano plunker to boot.” Jazz Times, in reviewing Butler’s 1996 album For All Seasons, called him “the finest all-around pianist in New Orleans, a city known for its piano masters.” High praise indeed, and all of it warranted every time Butler slides behind a keyboard and works his magic. Blind since birth, Butler began playing piano at age 6 and hasn’t stopped since — though he also found time to earn a master’s degree in vocal music. His earliest albums, beginning with 1985’s Fivin’ Around, were jazz trio affairs, but he’s since proved to be equally at home performing blues, rock ’n’ roll, gospel, Caribbean, gospel and funk — pretty much any and every style found in the musical gumbo of the Crescent City. Naturally, Butler was a key component of the New Orleans Social Club, the supergroup behind 2006’s acclaimed Katrina relief album, Sing Me Back Home. His most recent solo effort, 2008’s PiaNOLA Live, was hailed by Offbeat as “a pure, uncut blast of New Orleans piano.”

Fairgrounds Leg 3 5/3/12

Honey Island Swamp Band was awesome.  Now I know to catch them next time they are in town.
Here's the listing.  Follow the link to see a video:

Great music begins with great songs, and great songs are what the Honey Island Swamp Band is all about. The band came together after 4 friends were marooned in San Francisco after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Formed on the strength of timeless songs from Aaron Wilkinson and Chris Mulé, HISB’s "Bayou Americana" sound has been compared to the music of such forefathers as Lowell George, Earl King, Taj Mahal, Jerry Garcia, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Gram Parsons and Jimmy Reed.  Their eponymous EP was recorded in 2006 at famed studio The Plant in Sausalito, CA, and was received so well that they all decided to continue the band upon moving back home to New Orleans in 2007. Wishing Well, the band's first full length album won "Best Blues Album” of 2009 from OffBeat Magazine, which has also honored Honey Island Swamp Band as "Best Emerging Artist" of 2009 and “Best Roots Rock Artist” of 2010. And most recently the band was awarded “Best Roots Rock Artist” at the 2011 Big Easy Awards, widely considered the “Grammys of New Orleans”. HISB's newest offering – Good To You – was nominated by OffBeat Magazine as “Best Roots Rock Album” of 2010, was named to numerous “Top 10 CDS of 2010” lists, and has become a staple of most DJs on the Crescent City's legendary radio station WWOZ, as well as on Sirius/XM satellite radio’s Bluesville and traditional stations from coast-to-coast. Featuring the southern strut of songs such as “Country Girl”, "300 Pounds" and the album’s first single “Chocolate Cake”, Good To You illuminates the mix of country-inflected rock and New Orleans funky blues that makes Honey Island Swamp Band's music so familiar and unique at the same time.

I enjoyed Kristi Guillory & the Midtown Project.  This was a little more county than I used to go for, but I guess I'm a little more country now.
Kristi Guillory & the Midtown Project (Folk/Cajun)
Based in Lafayette, La., Kristi Guillory cut her teeth playing accordion for the all-girl Cajun band Bonsoir, Catin. A composer equally adept in English and Cajun French, her new band, the Midtown Project, combines Cajun and Americana stylings.


Fairgrounds Leg 2 5/3/12

The alto saxophone Woodshed in the Jazz Tent was fantastic.  It was Aaron Fletcher and Khari Lee Allen.  Roland Guerin was on the bass.  They also had pianist Victor Atkins and drummer Troy Davis.  Everyone was awesome and I loved this.
Alto Saxophone Woodshed featuring Khari Lee Allen and Aaron Fletcher (Jazz)
Like many jazz musicians, Aaron Fletcher learned from some of the great local legends living in New Orleans and the surrounding areas of Southeast Louisiana.
By the age of 13, he was demonstrating his prowess with the saxophone. Khari Allen Lee is a performer, composer, arranger, educator and student of music.

Here's a more detailed review:

I had to dance the Free Agents Brass Band.  They had a lot of people up there.

Free Agents Brass Band (Brass Band) Bass drummer and founder Ellis “E-Jo” Joseph leads the Agents, who formed in September 2005 on a mandate of keeping brass bands playing in New Orleans. Members have since sat in with Rebirth, New Birth, Hot 8 and more.

Dukes of Dixieland in the Economy Hall Tent were awesome.

The DUKES of Dixieland blow traditional jazz and Dixieland into the 21st Century, weaving strands of pop, gospel, and country with authentic New Orleans sounds. More than 38 years of tradition stand behind today's Dukes as they step forward with a sound that is durable and flexible, as jazz is meant to be. The DUKES of Dixieland - strong tradition, new ground, great sounds.
The DUKES have worn their New Orleans jazz heritage proudly as globe-trotting jazz ambassadors from the heart of the Big Easy. They are the oldest continuing Dixieland jazz band and have sold out such venues as The Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian, to name but a few. Bright and brassy or smooth and dark as cane syrup, the DUKES bring a time-honored authenticity to all of the hits of Dixie's yesteryear.

This is from last year:

Little Freddie King was great at the Fais Do-Do stage.  I wanted to see him at d.b.a. one night, but it was too early.
Little Freddie King (Blues)
Little Freddie King may dress like a dandy, but his blues are nononsense. A Mississippi native, he rocks Delta style with a New Orleans edge. Born Fread Eugene Martin, he adopted his stage name after playing with Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker and Freddy King.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fairgrounds Leg 1 5/3/12

I need to see everything, which is impossible at jazzfest.  I do pretty well with at least getting a taste of a lot.
Cheick Hamala Diabate is a West African historian in the Griot tradition, and a world-recognized master of the ngoni, a Malian traditional instrument.I loved Cheick Hamala Diabate and his Malian ensemble.

I also enjoyed a bit of OTRA at the Congo Square stage.  I didn't realize they are from NOLA, or maybe I forgot. 
OTRA was formed in Feb. 2002 by bassist Sam Price. After performing with other New Orleans-area latin bands that played a standard repertoire of popular latin covers, Price sought to create an original project that would empasize creativity, powerful soloing, and irresistable grooves, while honoring the afro-cuban roots of 'latin' music.
Cuban conguero 'Pupi' Menes and Price had played together in various latin bands. Columbian timbale master Cristobal 'El Canon' Cruzado was coaxed out of retirement from 20 years in a Bourbon St. show band (young Venezualan percussionist Gabriel Vasquez now alternates timbale duties). Saxophonist Brent Rose's incendiary, soulful playing was just the voice the band needed. When original trumpeter Bob Garrett left, Rose recruited Eric Lucero, a close friend and section-mate for many years. The two share great on-stage comradery and rare musical intuition. The final piece fell into place with the arrival of pianist/guitarist Rob Block from St. Louis in May, 2002. Block brought with him a wealth of experience from the St. Louis and New York latin scenes, as well as great writing skills.
Influences that can be heard in OTRA's sound include: The Fort Apache Band, Charlie and Eddie Palmieri, Arsenio Rodriguez, Poncho Sanchez, Mongo Santamaria and Cubanismo.
OTRA attempts to bring a rock n' roll attitude and excitement to its live performances, encouraging audience members to 'do their own thing' on the dance floor in an effort to help listeners relate to the music in a new way. In this way OTRA hopes to introduce many new listeners to afro-cuban jazz...not by watering it down or fusing it with hip-hop cliches, but with honest, passionate performances that intrigue the ear and delight the soul!

I caught a little of Julio Y Cesar at the Lagniappe stage.  I remember I enjoyed them last year, too.  I love the music on their website.

It was a good 1st hour.

Garage a Trois 5/2/12

The final set had the band as it is now with Marco.  This had all the chemistry and was very up and as great as usual. 

When they played with Charlie, I was really hoping they would do that part where they all play percussion.  They didn't.  I think they did that song where they used to do the percussion with Marco.  It was great anyway.

Welcome to New Orleans!

Garage a Trois w/ Charlie Hunter @ Howlin Wolf 5/2/12

This was why I especially had to go to this particular show.  I love GAT no matter how they want to do it.  I do miss the Charlie days and longed to see it again.  When I first started seeing them, Mike Dillon was special guesting at the fest.  He soon became a permanent member, perhaps during that jazzfest run how ever many years ago.  There were lots of great shows with the 4.  Then one year Charlie wanted to move on.  That year for jazzfest we got special guest John Medeski.  Within the next year Marco was the special guest and eventually became the permanent 4th.  And all throughout it's still one of my very favorite bands.

Needless to say, I was especially excited to see a show with the old 4.  It was a good time and I was dancing.  However, there was also something lacking.  They didn't have that chemistry.  It was good, just not amazingly phenomenal as I have come to expect.  Still fun.

I like this video from that show:



Garage A Trois first formed in 1999, right after Mardi Gras, as a trio featuring Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore and Skerik. They then added Mike Dillon in 2002. In 2007 Charlie Hunter left the band and Marco Benevento joined. This union of musical forces has only increased the creative output of these musicians-and apparently really helped their grundle.

Skerik - Saxophonist: A founding member of Critters Buggin', Skerik has been known to fraternize with the Black Flames, SadHappy, Tuatara (with Peter Buck of R.E.M.), Ponga, Mike Clark's Prescription Renewal (with original Headhunters drummer Mike Clark, Charlie Hunter, Robert Walter, and DJ Logic), Crack Sabbath, Blotallica, and Elemental. Skerik has jammed with soul legend Fred Wesley, Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters, and Les Claypool's Frog Brigade. Jambase theorized that 'the rotation of our planet is somehow connected with this outer space super hero.'

Stanton Moore - Drums and Polyrhythms: Also a founding member of the New Orleans funk band Galactic, Stanton also kicked off his solo career in 1998 with and is about to release his fifth solo album, Groove Alchemy, Moore’s multimedia project that also includes an instructional book and DVD of the same name. Showing his outstanding versatility, Moore has appeared on recordings such as Heavy Metal Grammy nominees Corrosion of Conformity’s In the Arms of God, Irma Thomas’ After the Rain (winning a grammy in the process), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and Boots Riley’s (the Coup) Street Sweeper Social Club, Diane Birch’s Bible Belt and Alec Ounsworth’s (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) Mo Beauty. He continues to play dates globally with an ever-evolving cast of musicians including George Porter, Jr., Leo Nocentelli (of the Meters), Charlie Hunter, John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin and Wood), Donald Harrison Jr., Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dr. John and Tab Benoit to name a few.

Marco Benevento - Keys and Organ: Marco Benevento is best known as one half of the Benevento/Russo Duo along with Joe Russo. Previously, he was a member of The Jazz Farmers, and has been a regular on the New York City contemporary, experimental jazz scene for years. He has performed with countless musicians which include, Matt Chamberlain, Charlie Hunter, John Medeski, Mike Gordon, Trey Anasatio, Eric Krasno, Wayne Krantz, John Ellis, Dave Dreiwitz, Mark Friedman, Reed Mathis, Bobby Previte, Ari Hoening, Terreon Gully, Brian Haas, DJ Olive, DJ Logic, Steven Bernsetin, Briggin Kraus, Lyrics Born, Mike Dillon, Les Claypool, Phil Lesh, Skerik, Johnny Vidacovich, Stanton Moore and others

Mike Dillon - Percussion and Vibraphone: An original member of the eclectic Critters Buggin', Mike's current projects include the Malachy Papers, Brave Combo, Hairy Apes B.M.X., and the Black Frames. Mike has toured with Les Claypool's Frog Brigade and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and was described by Jambase as 'possessed with a desire to always find something new, something deliciously rhythmic in any piece.'
May 2, 2012
Howlin' Wolf
New Orleans, LA
May 4, 2012
One Eyed Jacks
New Orleans, LA

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dead Kenny G's @ Howlin Wolf 5/2/12

This was my favorite night set of the trip.  It was phenomenal from start to finish.  Stanton came out and played drums for one.  I loved the tablas.  There was one modern jazz piece that was awesome.  It was them telling Kenny another way to go.  However, Kenny is lacking the soulfulness in his music, which is why great musicians want him dead.  It was a special treat for me to get that modern jazz piece since that's not usually what these guys do.  It was excellent!

I forgot to pick up the new CD, but I should be able to get it next week when they open for Galactic.

Skerik: Sax, keys.
Mike Dillon: Drums, vibraphone, tabla, percussion.
Brad Houser: Bass, baritone sax.

Marco Benevento @ Howlin Wolf 5/2/12

This is the annual Megalomaniacs Ball, with a night of some of the bands in the Royal Potato Family.   Various bands that have members of Garage a Trois and of course Garage a Trois is always last.

I was a little bummed I missed the Mike Dillon Band.  I heard they are even better than the awesome show I saw last month.  They now have a bass player. 

I did get to see Marco's solo show.  I've missed it a lot in NYC, so I'm glad I got there.  It was great. He had his organ as well as an upright piano.  I love it when he plays piano.  It was a great set.

Jazzfest 2012 Overall

It's different every year and how I do it is always different.  This was my R&R jazzfest.  That's right, Rest & Relaxation.  I was at the fest each of the 4 days, I just did a lot more sleeping and tv watching than ever before.  I went out a couple of nights and enjoyed them, there were just some nights I couldn't get out.  I'd been working a lot for months and needed a rest.  It was awesome!  I must say I love the fest more when I'm rested.  The night shows seemed like pretty much the same old thing from last year.  I'm sure there were some great ones and I probably missed some good stuff, but it was perfect for me.  It's impossible to do it wrong.

The weather certainly cooperated.  It got pretty hot but not too hot.  It rained a little on Sunday, but just enough to be a welcome spritz.  There was some cloud cover at times which made it more bearable.

I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of music.  I was pretty focused on violins and World music.  My favorite was Regina Carter, which had both of those elements.  I also found myself enjoying more country music than before.

There really is nothing better than jazzfest.  I'm in awe with just how phenomenal it is.  The food alone is worth going and having that much great music constantly is just too perfect.

How many days until next year?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Punch Brothers @ Town Hall 4/26/12

I've been wanting to see a whole show for a long time.  The only other time I saw them was at jazzfest last year.  OK, so looking them up on my blog I see I got a great 1/2 hour at Blue Nile that week as well.

There was an opener that wasn't for me.  Jessica Lea Mayfield is a singer-songwriter and I don't go in for that very often.  I was tired and this was just making me more tired.

The Punch Brothers certainly woke me up!  They were phenomenal.  They had me fully engaged attempting to chair dance from the 6th row the entire set.  I love the fiddler as much as Thile.  They are all amazing.

For the encore they did a fun one and then unplugged and came out to the front of the stage to get up close and personal.  They did an awesome Earl Scruggs tune in which they each took a solo.  The final was The Weight in honor of Levon Helm.

It was just too good!


The Touré-Raichel Collective @ City Winery 4/13/12

I saw it on a gig list I monitor and was intrigued by the African-sounding nature.  I checked it out and saw that there weren't many seats left, so I figured I'd grab one.  I have a new spot off to the side by the bar.  My old spot involves being around talkers and not as good sound.  Actually my favorite spot was taken by a cameraman, but maybe next time.

It was phenomenal.  I loved all of it.  Israeli meets African and it melds into something great.  Actually, I bet they are are great in whatever projects they choose to undergo.  I need to check out both of their previous works.  Idan Raichel brought his bass player and Vieux Farka Touré brought his drummer and it was great music.  I bought the CD and I love it.

The Touré-Raichel Collective featuring Vieux Farka Touré, Idan Raichel, Souleymane Kane and Amit Carmeli
The Touré-Raichel Collective: Vieux Farka Touré (Mali) and Idan Raichel (Israel), virtuosic superstars from very different backgrounds, join together to create masterworks of collaboration and improvisation. After a chance meeting in an airport in Europe, Idan and Vieux forged a deep friendship that led to an impromptu get together at a small studio in Tel Aviv in November 2010. The resulting recording session – acoustic, spontaneous, entirely improvised, and stunningly beautiful – could only be described as magic, and The Touré-Raichel Collective was born. On the upcoming album The Tel Aviv Session, to be released by Cumbancha on March 27, 2012, Idan and Vieux have captured an inspired musical moment that will bring to mind classic albums such as Talking Timbuktu by Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder, Keith Jarret’s The Köln Concert or Vincent Segal and Ballake Sissoko’s acclaimed Chamber Music. The live concert reflects the natural spontaneity and free-form creativity of the recording sessions, allowing audiences to experience firsthand the invention of sublime and transcendent music that crosses boundaries of country, culture and tradition.