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Tuning up for Satchmo SummerFest 2015

27th July 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

cash advance 27401 There’s some good news and some not so good news about this year’s Satchmo SummerFest, Friday, July 31 through Sunday, August 2. Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, the festival held at the Old U.S. Mint at Esplanade Avenue and Decatur Street, boasts an excitingly strong and diverse schedule. For starters, our own — and he really is — vocalist and guitarist Deacon John will perform at the festival for, amazingly, the first time. He comes on at 6 p.m. Friday preceded on the same stage as pianist Ellis Marsalis and followed by the mighty, Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band. Now the other proscenium — the one adjacent to Esplanade — is no slacker either with trumpe­ter/vocalist James Andrews hitting at 6:30 p.m. and saxophone giant Donald Harrison leading an All Star Louis Armstrong Tribute beginning at 7:45 p.m.

That’s just the first day. The not-so-good news is that for the first time since its inception, the Satchmo Fest will charge a fee to enter the gates at the Mint. Now granted, the cover charge is only $5, which is certainly more than reasonable considering the quality of the music, yet there’s a vaguely disheartening element to charging a fee for a festival that has always been free.

It was always so no fax same day payday loans online exciting when those following the Sunday second line parade — which takes place again this year starting at about 11:30 a.m. following the 10 a.m. jazz mass at St. Augustine Church — would enter the gates of the Mint. Worlds happily collided as the neighborhood folks, who make up the majority of those who tolerate the heat to dance in the streets, mixed it up with camera-bearing tourists experiencing the celebratory spectacle for the first time. Conversely, many of the locals participating in the parade enjoyed having the opportunity to check out the festival and visit the museum on their arrival at the Mint. Now, the second liners, weary and hot from their cultural celebration, will be stopped at the gate as others pay tribute to one of their very own — the legendary trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong.

On with the music… Deacon John will be leading his 10-piece band doing, what he says, will be a more “jazzy” set than people are accustomed to. “I’m going to do some Satchmo, some Cab Calloway, some Duke Ellington, some Lionel Hampton, some Dizzy Gillespie — a lot of the jazz greats that are in my repertoire now. I’ll do some of the blues things because blues is a payday loan update legitimate parent of all jazz — that’s a quote from Amiri Baraka who wrote “Blues People.” And it’s true. Blues is an integral part of all jazz. Look at the blues that Satchmo did like “Back of Town Blues” — a lot of his stuff came out of the blues. Jazz people just took it to another level.”

Tears might flow when trombonist Corey Henry, a truly remarkable musician with a wonderfully round tone, the ability to project and an intuitive sense of improvising, pays tribute to the late trumpeter Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill who was a member of Henry’s Tremé Funktet. As we do it in New Orleans, the set on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., is sure to celebrate Hill’s life with pumped up jazz/funk and laughs punctuating the sorrow.

A highlight of Saturday’s musical offerings at the festival includes a special Ella and Louis Tribute that focuses on the music that these two musical geniuses — vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter/vocalist Louis Armstrong — performed and recorded together. They brought their great gifts to three albums on the Verve label, 1956’s Ella and Louis, 1957’s Ella and Louis Again — both filled with great jazz standards — and 1957’s Grammy-winning recording Porgy and Bess, on which make more money fast they performed the music from George Gershwin’s innovative, English-speaking opera.

Bassist Mitchell Player has taken up the challenge of putting together a group to take on this material. The ensemble includes trumpeter and vocalist Wendell Brunious, who has the talent and New Orleans spirit to carry the load, teamed at center stage with Eilenia Dennis, a fine, jazz-oriented vocalist and native of England now making her home in New Orleans. Special guest, Jewel Brown, who performed with Armstrong, will join the band that includes Player, drummer Ocie Davis, guitarist Josh Starkman and pianist Leslie Martin. The instrumentation is the same as was heard on Fitzgerald’s and Armstrong’s first two albums with the great pianist Oscar Peterson Quartet. Check this out: the band included pianist Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis with drummer Buddy Rich on the first recording and Louie Bellson on the second. On Saturday, August 1, and Sunday, August 2, Player will take the whole tribute show to the Little Gem Saloon, 445 S. Rampart St.

Talk about naturally New Orleans, Shannon Powell is the man. For this event, the singing drummer will lead the Shannon Powell Traditional All-Star Band and it ain’t, in the words of a noted New Orleanian and once WWOZ programmer, Michael “Mr. Jazz” payday advance limited Gourrier, your ordinary “aggregation.” With Jason Marsalis on vibes, bassist Max Moran, pianist Kyle Roussel and reedman Christian Winthers, Powell plans to look back to the swing era when clarinetist Benny Goodman had vibe player Lionel Hampton and drummer Gene Krupa by his side.

“I want to capture that kind of vibe,” says Powell promising that his set will be composed of “mostly Pop’s tunes.” Powell adds that, like all jazz musicians, he was influenced by Armstrong though, being a drummer, it came most significantly through Armstrong’s writing and playing those New Orleans syncopated rhythms. “He had (drummer) Paul Barbarin in his band!”

Powell, who during this conversation had just come back from playing the Louis Armstrong Festival in Queens, New York — “It was a smash hit” — has a new gig at a club called D. Woods on North Broad Street and Bayou Road. On Sunday, he’ll go directly from his Satchmo Fest gig that starts at 4:15 p.m. to the club where the music kicks in at 6 pm.

“I love to be a part of anything that celebrates Pop’s legacy,” Powell happily declares of performing at the Satchmo SummerFest.

This article originally published in the July 27, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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