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The spirit of New Orleans music…

18th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Dr. Michael White
Adventures in New Orleans Jazz – Part 2

Dr. Michael White journeyed to the African Diaspora on part one of his Adventures in New Orleans Jazz. On that disc, released just last year, the clarinetist explored the musical kinship heard in the rhythms and melodies of New Orleans with those of Africa and the Caribbean. The long-acknowledged relationships made for a seamless flow between Jamaican Bob Marley’s anthem “One Love” and the wonderfully recognizable, African standard “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and the classic jazz of “Basin Street Blues.”

This time out, the clarinetist, who was once regarded as a strictly traditional jazz stalwart, looked closer to home for inspiration. His choice of material, outside of such New Orleans chestnuts as “Panama” and Sidney Bechet’s masterpiece “Petite Fleur,” might best be described as Americana.

The album opens with Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya,” a go-to tune for musicians, particularly those from Louisiana, playing in any number of styles including traditional jazz. Up next is “Midnight Special” that is given a quiet treatment with White’s clarinet “singing” the lyrics. (Yikes, that really is a kazoo in there.) Keeping in the heartland mode, White and his band jump into “Me & Bobby McGee,” a tune most associated with Janis Joplin. The cut, which features trumpeter Wendell Brunious, bassist Kerry Lewis moving to tuba, trombonist Lucien Barbarin, who excels throughout, pianist Steve Pistorious and drummer Herman LeBeaux, is, like all of the material, given a New Orleans jazz treatment complete with signature ensemble work. Rounding out White’s pop-ish theme, he turns to The Turtles’ 1967 hit, “Happy Together.” It’s a happy-go-lucky though dubious choice on an album the content of which doesn’t seem to comprehensively progress the idea of adventure as did his previous endeavor.

White stands on much more solid and exciting territory on his original material such as “I Love You Too Much To Ever Leave You.” The tune is in the classic, New Orleans jazz style with the adventure and exploratory attitude realized in the clarinetist’s music and solo. Trumpeter Gregg Stafford’s vocals sound like he’s 100 years old – as if he’s one of the jazz originators enjoying a new world of music. Stafford does the same singing the moldy fig “Tiger Rag” with drummer Shannon Powell giving it jumpy punch and banjoist Detroit Brooks strummin’ for his life. Stafford is just too funny.

White’s other contribution to the repertoire is his lovely “Eternally Blue” that glows with warm sincerity. It’s an element that prevailed on the first album of the Adventures series on which each tune seemed to be included for a reason. While there is some fine music to be heard on Adventures in New Orleans Jazz – Part 2, performed by some great players, the journey’s flow feels less instinctive.

All-Star Benefit for Charmaine Neville

It’s rare but wonderful for an artist to perform at their own benefit concert, but the always feisty vocalist Charmaine Neville will join her friends, family and fans at a star-studded event at the Westwego Farmers and Fisheries Market Sunday, June 24. Neville was recently diagnosed with CADASIL syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the brain. Money raised from the benefit will fund hyperbolic oxygen treatments that she has been receiving under the direction of LSU Health Science Centers’ Dr. Paul Harch with assistance from the West Jefferson Medical Center.

Naturally they’ll be lots of Neville family involved including keyboard­ist/vocalist Ivan Neville, vocal­ist/percussionist Cyril Neville and many next-generation Neville artists. Admission is only $10 for a full day — from noon to 6 p.m. — of music with such greats as pianist/vocalist Dr. John, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, rubboard man Rockin’ Dopsie, pianist Davell Crawford, R&B legends Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Jean Knight, Deacon John and the Dixie Cups and many, many more. Raffles of a variety of unique items will also help the cause and there will, of course, be food and beverage vendors on hand.

The Westwego Farmers and Fisheries Market is located at 484 Sala Avenue, Westwego. Go to www.wwoz.org/events for further information and wwwl.map­quest.com for directions.

Auditions for Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp

It is inspiring to see the young musicians who commit three weeks of the summer to attend the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp. They, like the educators, are dedicated to exploring the music born in New Orleans. Under the direction of noted saxophonist/educator Edward “Kidd” Jordan, the camp was established in 1995 to ensure the continuance of jazz, regarded by many as Black classical music.

Registration for this year’s session, which runs Monday through Friday from July 2 through July 20, ends on June 30, 2012. To qualify, students must be 10 to 21 years old and have studied music in a school program or privately for two years. Non-competitive auditions will be held at Loyola University’s Music Department on June 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday, June 22 from noon until 3 p.m.

This camp has been the one of a series of positive educational endeavors for a host of now well-known artists such as Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, pianist Jonathan Batiste, trumpeter Christian Scott and many more. The impressive staff has seen in its ranks musicians and educators like vocalist Germaine Bazzle, bassist Brian Quezergue, percussionist Jonathan Bloom, trumpeters Marlon Jordan and the late trumpeter Clyde Kerr Jr. and clarinetist Alvin Batiste. The camp’s list of guest artists-in-residency – trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Clark Terry, bassists Rufus Reed and Reggie Workman and so many more — demonstrate the camp’s high ideals and expectations. Saxophone great David Murray lends his expertise this year and will perform at the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Jazz Camp fundraiser on July 18.

For more information go to www.louisarmstrongjazz­camp.com.

This article was originally published in the June 18, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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