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The music of Spring is in the air

3rd April 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Walter “Wolfman”
Washington’s Brand New Bag

Walter “Wolfman” Washington has long been renowned as an iconic New Orleans blues, rhythm and blues and funk guitarist and vocalist. Recognized first as sideman with such legendary Crescent City artists as vocalists Lee Dorsey, Johnny Adams, Irma Thomas and even his cousin, Ernie K-Doe, Washington has successfully led and recorded with his own, solid, band — complete with horns—the Roadmasters since the mid-1980s. He also brings his late night blues style to the Joe Krown Trio, led by organist Krown with drummer Russell Batiste.

On his latest album, My Future Is My Past, the recording of which will be celebrated at Snug Harbor on Saturday, April 7, Washington, 74, heads into new and primarily unfamiliar territory. On the disc, produced by Galactic’s Ben Ellman, he’s found in a quieter space performing solo and in a trio and quartet settings with the core of the musicians known for their jazz chops. Three of them, pianist David Torkanowsky, bassist James Singleton and drummer Stanton Moore, who play a major role on the release, will be at the Frenchmen Street gig where the material on My Future Is My Past will be unveiled for the first time live—even before the official release date later in the month.



Through his long career, Washington has naturally crossed musical paths with both Torkanowsky and Singleton though the album represents the first time recording with these, hugely talented veterans. The session stands as the guitarist‘s initial meeting with Moore who leads and has recorded a jazz trio with these pros as well adding hard core drums with the band Galactic. With this ace rhythm section behind him, Washington, a hugely talented vet himself, will have no worries even in this, for him, unique setting.

“To play with them on something like this was a real treat for me because they really heard me and I could hear myself,” Washington observes. “Instead of hollering so much, I was able to sing instead of having to go out of my range.”

A wonderful selection of guest artists grace the album including Irma Thomas performing a vocal duet with Washington on the moving “Even Now,” a tune that both (as well as Johnny Adams) had previously recorded. Others who lift the disc are organist Ivan Neville, pianist Jon Cleary, percussionist Mike Dillon and more.

“It was definitely different — I’ve never done nothin’ like that before,” Washington exclaims on recording My Future Is My Past, which will be reviewed in this column on its release. The renowned guitarist and vocalist would probably say the same thing in regards to his Snug Harbor gig that should stand as a special experience for him, the rhythm section and the audience.

Spring Is Festival Time in New Orleans

The spring festival season begins casually with a friends meeting friends atmosphere at the Delgado Music Festival that is presented by the school’s music department in collaboration with the Cutting Edge Music Conference on Friday, April 6, and Saturday, April 7. Naturally, students from the community college will participate, kicking off with performances both days of the free event at 11 a.m. The Delgado Jazz Ensemble strikes up the first notes led by the impressive piano of Peter Cho, who presently is the executive dean of Delgado’s west bank campus and previously headed the music department at the City Park Avenue locale. Cho is best known in jazz circles for his years performing with the James Rivers Movement. Cho continues the New Orleans tradition of passing on and sharing this city’s musical heritage with the next generation through teaching.



Younger music enthusiasts will also take the stage with the West St. John Elementary School Choir and the Benjamin Franklin Middle School Choir performing at noon on Friday. The Encore Academy and McDonough 35 Brass Band share the noontime spot on Saturday. Winners of Delgado’s songwriting contest will be performing on both Friday and Saturday at 1:20 p.m.

Well-known, professional musicians and bands take over later in the afternoon at 2:30 p.m. on both days. The saying goes, “diversity is the spice of life” and it holds true when considering the festival’s afternoon line-ups. There are old favorites like zydeco guys, accordionist and vocalist Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots (Friday, 2:30 p.m.) and the always energetic rubboard man and vocalist Rockin’ Dopsie & the Zydeco Twisters (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.). On Friday, the Brass-A-Holics bring on the second line beat followed by Big Sam’s Funky Nation led by trombonist and a man with some smooth moves, Sam Williams.

Saturday offers some more fine modern jazz by the Loyola Contemporary Jazz Ensemble as well as up-and-coming and all over the music scene these days, vocalist Quiana Lynell.

Of note are performances by several, special ensembles that appear a bit less often than some of the above named “old favs.” They include Moyuba, a group that explores “ancient melodies and modern jazz” led by studied and knowledgeable percussionist Michael Skinkus, that takes the stage of Friday at 4 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sam Price & the True Believers bring on the funk and rhythm and blues. It’s one of many musical endeavors of bassist and vocalist Price who’s also recognized for his work with the Honey Island Swamp Band and as a member of Otra.

This article originally published in the April 2, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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