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Two of New Orleans’ internationally renown musicians take the spotlight

19th August 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Love Sessions Number Four

Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield presents the fourth edition of his annual philanthropic jazz series sweetly dubbed “Love Sessions.” The event takes place at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel from Friday, August 23, through Thursday, August 29. Each night, Mayfield and the Jazz Playhouse Revue, filled with some of this city’s finest musicians who regularly play at the club, will perform to benefit a different charity. Special guests will also bring their special flavor to the shows with drummer Jason Marsalis in on the first night that benefits the New Orleans Public Library Foundation. With the libraries so close to people’s hearts, this performance is already sold out.

In previous years, shows alternated between Mayfield’s I Club at the JW Marriott Hotel, which has since closed, and the Playhouse. The Playhouse, which seats 180 patrons and will also accommodate a standing room crowd, actually offers much better sight lines than the two-floor I Club. It’s a casually elegant room especially when the music gets going.Irvin-Mayfield-1-081913

The complete list of guest artists was not available at press time but here’s what’s now scheduled. On Sunday, Germaine Bazzle fronts the band with her great swing and scat. Her voice is literally another instrument on the bandstand when she vocally and impressively mimics a trombone. She’ll be singing for the Eden House.

Drummer Gerald French, who in 2012 took over the leadership of The Tuxedo Jazz Band on the death of his uncle, drummer Bob French, sits behind the drum kit on Monday, August 26. The very versatile and dynamic trombonist and vocalist Glen David Andrews, who moves from traditional jazz to gospel with ease, hits the stage on Tuesday, August 27. Shannon Powell beats the drums for the Louisiana Children’s Museum on Wednesday, August 28.

The final night with guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Don Vappie, an artist dedicated to keeping Creole music vital and who has a lot of fun doing it, strums for the non-profit New Orleans Jazz Orchestra that is, of course, led by Mayfield.

Two excellent musicians, trombonist Vincent Gardner and baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall, will also be coming to town to join the Playhouse Revue performing either on Sunday and Monday nights or both. (Check updated schedules.)

Gardner, a Chicago native, has some New Orleans connections as he is a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra headed by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and also recorded with trumpeter Nicholas Payton. The trombonist, who has recorded four albums as leader for the highly-regarded SteepleChase label, presently teaches at the Julliard School in New York City.

Marshall, who studied with the legendary master of the bari, Hamiet Bluiett, presently blows baritone saxophone with trumpet great Roy Hargrove’s Big Band and his edgy RH Factor.

Other outstanding local musicians announced to play include saxophonists Ed Petersen and James Rivers, trombonist Michael Watson, clarinetist Evan Christopher and guitarist Steve Masakowski.

All of the performances will be recorded and a commemorative CD will be released by New Orleans own Basin Street Records.

This series is special not only because it benefits via jazz a number of worthy organizations but also it attracts a diverse audience of music lovers and those who work to build a better community.

For further, more updated, information and tickets go to www.thenojo.com.

Harry Connick, Jr.
Every Man Should Know
(Columbia Records)

One thing you can say about Harry Connick, Jr. is that he has always remembered to bring his homies to the bandstand and the studio. The disc is full of them – drummer Shannon Powell, trumpeters Mark Braud, Leroy Jones and Wynton Marsalis, trombonist Mark Mullins, drummer Raymond Weber, bassist Tony Hall to name a few.Harry-Connick-Jr.-081913

Actually, the pianist and vocalist also never forgets his hometown – thanks for the Musicians Village, Harry! – though the music on this album, with the exception of the second linin’ “S’poposed to Be,” that includes vocalist Kim Burrell doesn’t reflect the city of Connick’s birth. It also doesn’t speak to him coming up under the mentorship of the great and eclectic James Booker or that Connick was once primarily known as a jazz pianist.

Every Man Should Know represents Connick the sensitive and romantic songwriter and singer. It’s a mode he’s successfully revealed previously most notably on 1991’s Blue Light. While comparing one musician to another can be dastardly business, Connick’s tone and mood on several numbers is very reminiscent of fellow singer/pianist, superstar Billy Joel. Connick does revisit the Sinatra era on “Being Alone” with trumpeter Marsalis taking one of the few solos heard by any of the musicians throughout the album.

On a new front, Connick goes country on “Greatest Love Song” complete with a pedal steel guitar and a lively, refreshing rhythm. He keeps in the countrified style as he closes the album of all original material on the appropriately sentimental “Time to Go” that includes the mournful strains of mandolin and violin.

Every Man Should Know is an easy, pleasant album that should greatly please an audience ready to enjoy some relaxing music performed by gifted musicians. For those who are eager to hear the pianist seriously tickle the keyboard, the multi-talented Connick just might give them their wish on his next outing.

This article originally published in the August 19, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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