Monday, May 2, 2011

And That's That

Months of preparation and anticipation, and just like that, the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is done.

Some highlights:

Derek Douget's first set as a bandleader--
I first saw Derek play with Ellis Marsalis, then watched him come into his own as Maurice Brown's right hand man. His original material has some strong Ornette Coleman influence, but there's no getting around the New Orleans in his blood.

Germaine Bazzle--
To describe Miss Bazzle as a New Orleans version of Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald would be selling her short. You must experience her live to appreciate the whole package. She can break your heart with a smokey ballad like "Every Time We Say Goodbye" then knock you out with a scat-filled version of "When You're Smiling." This is all done with elegance, grace and a whole lotta New Orleans zing.

Mumford & Sons--
It was near impossible to get anywhere near the Gentilly Stage to see these very un-New Orleans guys from England. But, the strength of the debut, specifically the brilliant single "Little Lion Man," has turned this band into a phenomenon. From no closer than 300 yards away, I watched a sea of people jump and sway as Mumford & Sons, with their blend of The Pogues-meet-the-E-Street Band style of attack, turn the Fairgrounds into a giant pub. Sadly, I only had the patience for about 30 minutes of the 80 minute set, as the masses and the heat and the video screens beat me this time out.

Midnight Disturbers--
Another supergroup of sorts, this line-up anchored by drumming monsters Stanton Moore & Kevin O'Day, with just about every hot shot horn player available--Shamarr Allen, Trombone Shorty, Roger Lewis, Matt Perrine, Mark Mullins, Corey Henry, Skerik, and Big Sam Williams--kicked some big time ass with their high-energy set of brass-band funk. These 55 minutes may have been my favorite 55 minutes of the weekend.

Astral Project--

Now on their 34th straight Jazz Fest appearance, this premier jazz ensemble featuring Tony Dagradi, Steve Masakowski, James Singleton, and drummer-extraordinaire John Vidacovich, never fail to bring the Jazz Tent to its feet with their completely original sound. Singleton is a martian on the bass. I don't think I have ever seen a player quite as original and unique.


Gospel Tent--
What can I say about the Gospel Tent? You don't have to be a believer to be moved by the line-up of local talent, testifying and singing to the heavens. From solo singers, to choirs as large as 40 members deep, the performers can and often do, bring an entire audience to a fever pitch. And where else can you see New Orleans legend James "Sugarboy" Crawford (the man wrote "Iko-Iko," for Pete's sake) sing a hymn.


Noam Sane said...

Sal, I just caught up on your New Orleans trip - been busy - but reading through the posts and seeing the pictures...let's put it this way, I can taste the sauteed shrimp and onion po' boy. MMMMM.

Thanks for suffering through that flight for us, and keep it comin'.

Eric said...

beautiful.....takes me there....not a review. but a NOLA love sonnet.

plus double DD

Leon said...

That's cool about the Trombone Shorty supergroup... I saw him in Atlanta last year and he was awesome. And Mumford & Sons.... hm.... I'm having trouble getting too excited about them, but seeing them paired up with Dylan on the Grammys actually made me want to give them another try.

elizabethm said...

wish I were there...

Shorty will be here in Rochester for the second year at our admittedly much much smaller (but still great jazz fest) in June.

Anonymous said...

You back in the Naw'east again, Sal? Hope your journey was good... except for the fact that where you're returning to has a lot less gator po'boys on hand.