Jazz Fest, Week Two – Here we go again!
28th April 2014 · 0 Comments
By Geraldine Wyckoff
After a few days rest, Jazz Fest picks up again (May 1-May 4) or, for some who have been holding out until the big final weekend, it just gets goin’. Be sure to check out the Cultural Exchange Pavilion that’s filled with Brazilian music and artisans. Those familiar with the Garifuna music of Belize, might want to discover Brazilians Tizumba & Julia, whose sound speaks of the their relationship with that of the Caribbean nation and the African diaspora.
Here are a (very) few of the highlights of this weekend’s schedule.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
National Fav: The Wailers, Congo Square Stage, 4:15 p.m. Bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett carries on the memory and tradition of the late great Bob Marley as the leader of The Wailers. The bassist is renowned as having been the pulse of the original Bob Marley & the Wailers and was behind the controls as engineer on such albums as Catch a Fire. Reggae always sounds just right out at the Fair Grounds. Family Man is true to the music, mon!
Local Fav: Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Acura Stage, 3:05 p.m. Established in 1977, the Dirty Dozen started a brass band movement that still ricochets in the streets and clubs today. Adding, jazz, funk, rhythm and blues to the second line beat, the Dozen became pioneers with groups like the Rebirth, Soul Rebels, Hot 8 and more following – with some hip-hop detours – in the ensemble’s path. Good musicianship is the key of the Dozen as it is in all music.
Personal Fav: Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jazz Tent, 5:40 p.m. New Orleans has been fortunate that the oh-so-soulful Dr. Smith has been a regular visitor to this city. With a turban wrapped around his head, a smile on his face and his eyes gleaming, the legendary jazz organist always appears to be enjoying himself and that translates directly to his bandmates and audiences. Today he’ll be teamed with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and New Orleans own, rising star, drummer Joe Dyson who plays with Smith regularly.
Friday, May 2, 2014
National Fav: Chaka Khan, Congo Square Stage, 5:30 p.m. Remarkably, this marks the multi-Grammy-winning vocalist and mover and shaker Chaka Khan’s first appearance at the Fair Grounds. She does, however, remember performing at a Jazz Fest night concert on the Riverboat President decades ago. (Oh, man, we still miss that riverboat!) Kahn will forever be associated with the song that won her a Grammy back in 1974 when she was with Rufus, the killer hit “Tell Me Something Good” and her collaborations with artists like Prince and most recently Beyoncé. “I dare not try not to do “I’m Every Woman,” Khan once remarked. A master of many genres, there’s always some funk in the mix with Chaka Khan.
Local Fav: Nicholas Payton & the New Orleans 4, Jazz Tent, 4:10 p.m. Grammy winning trumpeter and now keyboardist Nicholas Payton presents a new ensemble with drummer Russell Batiste, guitarist Derwin “Big D” Perkins and bassist Braylon Lacy. “Russell is a bad dude,” says Payton. “I feel he’s one of the singular creative forces on the drums and definitely has his own original take on the New Orleans style.” Big D, of course, is best known as the soulful guitarist in Jon Cleary’s Absolute Monster Gentlemen and with keyboardist Nigel Hall’s band. Lacy hails from the Dallas, Texas area and has been heard regularly with vocalist Erykah Badu. It should make for an interesting mix.
Personal Fav: Pharoah Sanders, Jazz Tent, 5:40 p.m. It is near impossible to think of saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders without having his and vocalist Leon Thomas’ song “The Creator Has a Master Plan” swirl through one’s being. It was the great Sun Ra who began calling Farrell Sanders “Pharoah” and the royal title remains his. The time Sanders spent with legendary saxophonist John Coltrane remains core to his projection and the spirituality of his playing. He’ll be joined by longtime associate pianist William Henderson, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth. “…Peace and happiness through all the land.”
Saturday, May 3, 2014
National Fav: Trey Songz, Congo Square Stage, 5:30 pm or Al Jarreau, Jazz Tent, 5:35 p.m. Two talented vocalists, who are generations apart, are up against each other on the schedule at the end of the day. Contemporary rhythm and blues man, composer, rapper Songz cut his first album in 2005 and jazz legend Jarreau released his debut in 1975. Songz has been nominated for a Grammy three times including in 2013 for his self-penned tune “Heart Attack.” Jarreau has won seven. Take your pick or try to see a little of both.
Local Fav: Allen Toussaint, Acura Stage, 1:35 p.m. A New Orleans treasure, pianist, composer, vocalist Allen Toussaint is the man who wrote the songs that put New Orleans rhythm and blues on the map during its heydays in the early 1960s. Just name them – “Mother-in-Law,” “Working in a Coalmine” “Ruler of My Heart” – and so many more. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who gained further recognition for his collaboration with Elvis Costello on The River in Reverse as well as his solo work, brings a bit of it all to his sets.
Personal Fav: Tyronne Foster & the Arc Singers, Gospel Tent, 2:50 pm. Tyronne Foster stands as the enthusiastic, demanding and always smiling director of the some 30-members of the Arc Singers. He puts the New Orleans ensemble, which includes some excellent soloists, through the paces with intricate arrangements that include stop-time rhythms and solid choreography.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
National Fav: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Congo Square Stage, 5:20 p.m. It’s a double-header at Congo Square at the close of this year’s Fest. The legendary singer, composer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy winner Bobby Womack, whose career spans some 50 years, takes the stage first at 3:25 p.m. Up next is Frankie Beverly and Maze, a group with whom this city has had a love affair since 1980 when it recorded its album, Live in New Orleans, at the Saenger Theater. Expect sing-a-longs and line dancing on “Joy and Pain.”
Local Fav: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Acura Stage, 5:45 p.m. For the second year, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews closes out Jazz Fest at what many still like to call the Fess Stage. It’s a prestigious spot on the schedule once held by Professor Longhair himself and for years the Neville Brothers. The trombonist, trumpeter and vocalist makes for the perfect successor – he’s steamin’ hot as heard on his three Verve albums including 2013’s Say That To Say This, an energized bandleader and just a nice guy. Go Shorty!
Personal Fav: Chic Corea & The Vigil, Jazz Tent, 4:15 p.m. High praise comes for both keyboardist Chic Corea’s live performances with this group and for his 2013 release The Vigil. Corea, a jazz legend who played with trumpeter Miles Davis and formed the revolutionary super fusion group, Return to Forever, brings his many musical interests to the table on this project. The solid musicians include drummer Marcus Gilmore, the grandson of the great Roy Haynes, saxophonist Tim Garland, guitarist Charles Altura, bassist Carlitos Del Puerto and percussionist Luisito Quintero. Word is that Corea mans both the acoustic and electric keys on his rhythmically diverse shows.
This article originally published in the April 28, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.