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No shortage of great music, post Jazz Fest

20th May 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

It was genius when in March 2007 these three exceptional musicians — organist Joe Krown, guitarist/vocalist Walter “Wolfman” Washington and drummer Russell Batiste – joined forces to form the Joe Krown Trio. Musically they came from different spheres though New Orleans was central to their orbits. Their stylistically different approaches to and backgrounds in music remain apparent yet they seamlessly combine to enhance rather than distract from the trio’s performances and this solid CD.

Each artist contributes original material with Batiste’s instrumental “Trio’s Anthem” opening the disc. It kicks with a jazz/funk edge that beckons to the era when organ trios ruled and thankfully the style seems to be making a serious resurgence. Notably, the sound on this cut and throughout the album is wonderfully full and warm with each instrument heard distinctly.

The only two tunes not written by members of the trio come from the great Johnny “Guitar” Watson including the “Lone Ranger.” With Washington taking the lead and Batiste offering unique background vocals, the trio takes a relaxed approach to the song that boasts a rhythm that screams, “Line dance!”

Krown’s title cut, “Soul Understanding” funks with a dance groove and a memorable melody. It’s clear that these guys are constantly listening to one another as they musically interact whether playing as ensemble or backing their bandmates’ solos.

It’s not surprising that Washington is the late night romantic of the crew – it has long been one of his signatures as a guitarist and vocalist. He contributes several fine, amorous cuts that add a variety of moods to the
album making it very much like a well-planned set at a club. Unexpectedly, swing is in house on Washington’s instrumental, “Just Us.” It’s a quick romp that speeds up then comes to a sudden stop. It stands as the finale for the album, again, much like how many bands might end a club date.

All three of these artists boast big musical personalities. Krown, the only one of the three who is not a native of New Orleans, arrived here in 1992 to take on the prestigious and demanding position as keyboardist with the late, great guitarist Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Washington leads his own group, the Roadmasters, while he remains forever remembered for his backing the incredible voice of Johnny Adams. Batiste, a member of the musical Batiste family has been behind the drums since childhood while he’s also known to play an array of instruments and is noted for his talent as a composer and arranger. He, of course, is behind the drums with the funky Meters.

Renowned on their own, these individuals create selfless grooves on Soul Understanding, a one-for-all album free of any weak links.

The Joe Krown Trio performs at the free Jazz in the Park concert series on Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Armstrong Park.

Missed ‘Em at Jazz Fest, Catch ‘Em Now…

Not everybody had the opportunity to hear Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ historic closing set at Jazz Fest this year. The great thing about New Orleans is that the music doesn’t stop when the festival ends. Shorty and his terrific band, Orleans Avenue, perform this Wednesday, May 22 at Lafayette Square as part of the free Wednesday at the Square concert series. This show could be considered a kind of local, intimate after party to his festival set and a celebration with all his family and friends. The entire city is so proud of Andrews’ many accomplishments and warm, humble heart. Go Shorty!

Guitarist and vocalist Mike “West Bank Mike” Doussan opens the show at 5 p.m.

The double bill at this week’s edition of Jazz in the Park also features some standouts who performed at Jazz Fest and who are strong all year long. The Hot 8 Brass Band that is rollin’ following the release of its new CD, Tombstone, takes the stage at Armstrong Park at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. Saxophonist Donald Harrison & the Congo Square Nation move the groove from a second line beat to the blend of jazz and Black Indian rhythms. Harrison, who gained early recognition blowing straight-ahead jazz with drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, worked with the great Latin jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri among others and is a renowned leader, gained his knowledge of the Mardi Gras Indian traditions from his father, the late Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr. of the Guardians of the Flame. He brings all of these experiences to every bandstand.

This evening and every evening at the Jazz in the Park series is all about New Orleans, all about the neighborhood, all about the family that is this city’s music community. The New Skool Brass Band and the Undefeated Divas warm things up at the park beginning at 3 pm and lead a second line to the Candle Light Lounge for an after party following the concert.

The free series in Armstrong Park, which looks particularly lovely this time of year and offers shady spots under the trees and a chair-free dance floor in front of the stage, ends June 13. This event is a real jewel.

This article originally published in the May 20, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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