Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Gift To Pops




"A Gift To Pops" is a new tribute to Louis Armstrong on the Verve label, that on the surface looks like the same ol' same old. But I am here to tell you, it is NOT the same ol' same old.

The song titles will look familiar, but with a cast of New Orleans A-Listers, it should come as no surprise that the arrangements and the playing are nothing short of brilliant.

The core band features Nicholas Payton, Herlin Riley, Davell Crawford, Wycliffe Gordon, Don Vappie, Ashlin Parker, and Reginald Veal and they stay true to the legendary melodies of Hoagy Carmichael, W.C. Handy, and Fats Waller, but it's the thrill of the attack that turns these Satchmo classics into one of the best tribute albums I have ever heard.

I realize some of these musicians might not mean as much to a casual listener of New Orleans music as they do me, but trust me, this is the Traveling Wilburys of the Crescent City.

Drummer Herlin Riley's arrangement of "St. Louis Blues" is nothing short of genius, while Nicholas Payton's arrangement of Waller's "Black & Blue," featuring "Big D" Perkins of Jon Cleary's Absolute Monster Gentlemen on guitar and a spoken word cameo from Common, is the surprise of the entire set.

I should mention that Herlin Riley's vocals on this set should not be ignored. He kills!

The only misstep is "What A Wonderful World." It has some heart, and the gospel organ is a nice touch, but the smooth R&B vocal delivery of Niki Haris did not move me at all.

Still, "A Gift To Pops" thrilled me to no end. If any of this music ever thrilled you at all, I highly recommend giving this record some proper time.



A Walk In The Woods said...

Another record I would probably have no idea existed if not for your blog. Thanks for featuring things you know we need to hear!

Anonymous said...

You did it again! LP is ordered.



heartsofstone said...

Thanks again. Add me to list of people that just ordered this release.


Good call -- thanks Sal. I have work to do.

"the Traveling Wilburys of the Crescent City!" :-)

pmac said...

I've had this album for a few weeks now, and its ben in constant rotation. Also, Herlin Riley has about 4 solo albums out, and all are simply fantastic (especially the last 2).

heartsofstone said...

I have to thank you again. So much joy in this music at a time when joy is in short supply. How do we get Tom Waits to join the next set.