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Music everywhere for every taste

16th September 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wykcoff
Contributing Writer

There’s nowhere quite like Tipitina’s for some old-school vibe – it lives in the spot created for the late, great Professor Longhair. On Saturday, September 20, the musical hands of time will be turned counter-clockwise at The New Orleans R&B Throwback X starring trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) and vocalist/pianist Davell Crawford with very special guests, vocalists Irma Thomas and Charmaine Neville.

The focus, says Crawford, will be on the hits of the golden age of New Orleans rhythm and blues of the 1950s and 1960s. The repertoire will include tunes from artists such as the legendary pianist/vocalist Fats Domino, singer Johnny Adams, keyboardist/vocalist Art Neville and Davell’s grandfather James “Sugar Boy” Crawford.

In selecting the material for the show, Crawford and Mayfield went through a huge catalog of New Orleans music. “The problem is we like so many of the songs,” Crawford explains with a laugh. “This show could be a part one with a part two, a part three…”

Crawford, who will sing the majority of the material and play some piano, had previously arranged many of the songs for a big band and Mayfield handled the rest.

“I want to congratulate the orchestra for taking this on and celebrating this kind of music,” Crawford says. “Collaborating with Irvin is always really good because we have such strong feelings for each other as childhood friends. So anything we do together, we try to give it our all. He does that all the time, anyhow.”

Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are available online or at the door.

Prime Night at the Prime Example

Thursday, October 19, stands as a date that deserves to be marked on the calendar of jazz fans. Grammy-winning New Orleans trumpeter and keyboardist Nicholas Payton makes a too rare hometown appearance in the intimacy of North Broad Street’s Prime Example. Working with Payton will be drummer Adonis Rose who spent many a year playing with the trumpeter and is heard on such fine albums as Payton’s Place and Dear Louis. (The latter release, incidentally, included Nicholas’ late father, bassist Walter Payton.) At the Prime Example one of this city’s finest bassists, Roland Guerin, who is equally adept on acoustic or electric, will handle the position.

Showtimes are now earlier at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Harvest the Music Series in Full Swing

The popular Harvest the Music series is in full swing every Wednesday evening at Lafayette Square through October 30. The beauty of this free event is that proceeds from the sale of food and beverages benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank, a worthy cause to be certain. This week guitarist and vocalist Mia Borders, who has been very much in the center of the music scene since the release of her album Quarter-Life Crisis, takes the stage at 5 p.m. The second linin’, funkin’, hip-hop Soul Rebels headline.

Gregory Porter
Liquid Spirit
(Blue Note)

No, Gregory Porter isn’t from New Orleans nor, unfortunately, is he stopping here during his upcoming tour. The Brooklyn-based vocalist is simply so hot right now that his debut release on the prestigious Blue Note label, Liquid Spirit, was impossible to ignore.

Anticipation for this album ran extremely high following Porter’s two Grammy nominations. His first album, 2010’s Water, which included the stunning, self-penned cut “1960 What?” was up for an award in the Best Vocal Jazz Album category. The warmly delivered song “Real Good Hands” heard on Porter’s 2012 Be Good was nominated in the Best Traditional R&B Performance division. Both of these albums were on the Motema Music label.

For the new release, Porter may have changed labels but hasn’t changed direction or his core band members that include the fine pianist Chip Crawford who also serves as music director.

Porter’s reputation as a remarkable jazz singer with soul — or soul singer seeped in jazz — is validated once again on Liquid’s Soul’s opening tune, “No Love Dying Here.” The lyrics he sings with his rich baritone voice ring with truth and purity.

Porter’s poetic and very personal lyrics whether speaking of love or social conditions are often given further strength when he delivers them in a staccato style as heard on the opener and again on “Musical Genocide.” On the latter, Porter praises gospel, blues and soul singers and declares: “I will not submit to musical genocide.” The vocalist doesn’t declare war on any particular musical aspect or style, leaving the identity of his nemesis up to his audience. However considering his background in gospel and jazz and influences, including Nat “King” Cole and Donny Hathaway, it’s pretty clear where his barbs are intended. Porter passionately lets his big baritone loose here and the horns – two saxophones and trumpet – echo his emotional explosion. There’s a local connection on this cut with Glenn Patscha, who studied at UNO and was a part of the local jazz scene from 1989 to 1998, coming in on organ. It’s fair to speculate that “Musical Genocide” could be the hit of the CD.

Beyond his vocal prowess, Gregory Porter boasts a compelling presence and a gift for storytelling that draws one into the realm and spell of Liquid Spirit.

This article originally published in the September 16, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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