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A week for ‘All Souls’ and soulful music

31st October 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Remembering Loved Ones

Often, the simplest gestures, the little touches best express the love, joy and respect that people have for each other. In New Orleans, like no other place in the United States, we adhere to the tradition of remembering those who’ve passed on November 1, All Saints Day. People here tend to the graves of their loved ones by bringing flowers, perhaps a broom and a shovel and maybe even a picnic basket to the area’s cemeteries. They make sure that their families’ and friends’ final resting places remain in good repair.

Lionel Loueke

Twelve years ago, a new tradition was born. The Backstreet Cultural Museum presented its first annual All Saints Day Tribute Parade, a small though caring affair that honors musicians, Mardi Gras Indians and all those involved with the culture who died throughout the year. Often, one close to the heart person is paid special tribute with photographs and memorabilia associated with their life placed on top of a simple, wooden, horse drawn wagon that is the centerpiece of the parade.

This year, Collins “Coach” Lewis, who sewed for the Fi-Yi-Yi Mardi Gras Indian gang and was active in numerous aspects of the Black street traditions and died on August 5, 2011, will hold that position of honor.

As is tradition, the parade, led by the Treme Brass Band, will leave from the D.W. Rhodes Funeral Home, 1716 N. Claiborne Avenue at 3 p.m. It heads out St. Anthony to N. Robertson and proceeds to St. Bernard Avenue. From St. Bernard it goes to N. Claiborne Avenue and travels to St. Philip Street and stops at Charbonnet Family Service. It then goes down St. Philip Street to Treme Street and takes a right on Barracks to stop again at the Little People’s Place. Though the barroom is now closed having succumbed to gentrification of the neighborhood, it remains well-loved by all those who walked through its doors. The parade then begins its way to the Backstreet Museum by way of Barracks, N. Rampart Street, Ursulines and finally to St. Claude Street (now officially Henriette Delille St.). It ends at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, 1116 Henriette Delille, where their will be presentations and refreshments.

A Meeting of Masters

“This is true jazz experience,” drummer Herlin Riley states of his and guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke’s first encounter. The meeting of these master musicians plus the excellent bass of David Pulphus takes place on Thursday, November 3, 2011 at Snug Harbor. “That’s because,” Riley continues, “all of the music will be improvised in the spirit of the individuals who will be playing. It will be coming out of the musicians.”

Loueke, who was born in the West African country of Benin and moved to the United States in 1999 to study at the Berklee School of Music, is perhaps best recognized by New Orleanians for his work with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. He’s heard on two of Blanchard’s Blue Note albums, 2003’s Bounce and 2005’s Flow. He’s gone on to play and/or record as a sideman for a multitude of musicians including pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and vocalist Dianne Reeves. The versatile Loueke went on to establish himself as a leader in both jazz and world music. His latest release is 2009’s Blue Note offering, Mwaliku.

Instantly, the Riley/Loueke combination appears as a perfect pairing. Riley, a New Orleans native who grew up in the drum-heavy Lastie family – his famous kin include his grandfather Frank Lastie and uncle Walter “Popee” Lastie – is a jazz man who tonally and rhythmically remembers Africa. It is heard no matter what the setting and was emphasized in his contribution to trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ Congo Square, which was done in collaboration with African drum master Yacub Addy and Odadaa!

“If people ask me about a drummer, Herlin always tends to always come to mind,” says Jason Patterson, who books Snug Harbor. “We’ve put Herlin with other folks in the past like (pianist)Jason Moran which was one of the best shows of the year. {Yeah, you’re right.} So Herlin steps up, has very big ears and is open to any kind of player that comes along of his caliber and I think Lionel is.”

Patterson initially invited Loueke down to perform as part of the Sandbar series that unites guest artists with jazz students at the University of New Orleans. On Wednesday, November 2, Loueke will undoubtedly awe the guitar ensemble students – as well as the audience – with his impressive technique, array of instruments and unusual guitar tunings.

Bassist David Pulphus, who fills out the trio at Snug Harbor, has his own connection to Loueke. Though at different times, both performed with Blanchard. The two crossed paths while Loueke was a student at the Thelonious Monk Institute and Pulphus was laying down the bass lines in Blanchard’s band. “He’s familiar to where Lionel is coming from,” says Patterson.

The threads that run throughout the African diaspora remain best realized in music. They will weave together yet again in the great pairing of Lionel Loueke and Herlin Riley.

Ledisi Comes Home

Ledisi, whose name means “bring forth” in Yoruba, was born Ledisi Anibade Young into a New Orleans musical family – her mother an R&B singer, stepfather a drummer and biological father a soul singer. Combine that background with her work with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and the result: A hometown girl who makes, very, very good.


The soul/R&B/funk vocalist, who left New Orleans years ago to pursue her career, appears at the House of Blues on Wednesday, November 2, in support of her hotly received new album, Pieces of Me. The disc is in keeping with her two previous soul-drenched releases, Lost and Found and Turn Me Loose, both of which earned the gorgeous vocalist Grammy nominations.

To see Ledisi in her hometown and in the intimate setting of the House of Blues should make for a very special show.

This article was originally published in the October 31, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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