JAZZ FEST | 04.26 - 05.06 | NEW ORLEANS

Words by: SuperDee

04.28.07 :: SATURDAY

Richie Havens :: 04.28 by Adam McCullough
Our entrance music today was the fabulous blind pianist Henry Butler. As we walked into the grounds, we immediately sank back into the fest vibe as Butler yelled, "Can y'all feel it?!" This was a high energy set that had everyone shaking it to the left AND to the right. It's like watching magic happen before your eyes as he slams the keys, each finger just instinctively knowing where to land.

After trying something new – the crawfish sausage po'boy – we moseyed over to the Heritage Stage for some straight up horny goodness from the New Birth Brass Band. From there we poked into the Grandstand to see the "Celebrate! New Orleans" photo exhibit, featuring the unique celebratory traditions of the city as seen through the lenses of the photographers that live here including beautiful photos of Mardi Gras Indians, marching bands and people dancing in the streets.

Norah Jones :: 04.28 by Adam McCullough
Next up was Alexa Ray Joel, Billy Joel's daughter. After seeing her name on the lineup a few months ago, I listened to her songs on Rhapsody and was compelled to see her live. She played keyboards with her band of cute boys, and her demeanor was confident yet very down to earth. "Just to clarify, no, my father does not help me write songs. I write my own songs," she told us. "And no, I'm not going to play 'Piano Man.'" She did play a beautiful arrangement of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down." She's got soulful, powerful pipes, strong delivery and I was very impressed with her pop music songwriting chops.

Rebirth Brass Band :: 04.28 by Seth Rubin
From there, we wandered over to the Rebirth Brass Band, who could be heard from Congo Square playing TLC's "Waterfalls." Shade and jazz was what we needed, so off to the Jazz Tent to see trumpet virtuoso Terence Blanchard. The great thing about the Jazz Tent is while you're going to see the musician who's name is on the marquee each member of every band is a genius. This was certainly true of Pharoah Sanders' band, who followed Blanchard. Sanders began his set with "My Favorite Things" which lasted for a blissful 25-minutes. Crawfish and music, good friends and laughing, these are a few of my favorite things.

Pharoah Sanders :: 04.28 by Zack Smith
Another fine day on the fairgrounds. As we made our way out, we heard some Dirty South hip-hop from Ludacris in Congo Square, Cajun style "Great Balls of Fire" from Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys on the Fais Do Do stage and the lovely and amazing Norah Jones & the Handsome Band on the Gentilly Stage.

Cabs wait out front and we're off into the night...


Glen Hartman NOLA Klezmer All-Stars by Zack Smith

Fest-Goer by Zack Smith

Golden Comanche Indians by Zack Smith

Terence Blanchard by Zack Smith

Tab Benoit by Adam McCullough

Jon Cleary by Adam McCullough

Ludacris Crowd by Adam McCullough

Ludacris by Adam McCullough

Burnside Explosion by Adam McCullough

Davell Crawford by Adam McCullough

Shannon McNally by Adam McCullough

Black Seminole Mardi Gras Indians by Adam McCullough

Black Seminole Mardi Gras Indians by Adam McCullough

JazzFest by Seth Rubin

JazzFest by Seth Rubin

Snow Balls at JazzFest by Seth Rubin

Norah Jones by Seth Rubin

Marcia Ball by Seth Rubin

Richie Havens by Seth Rubin

Rebirth Brass Band by Seth Rubin


Brian Coogan - Maelstrom Trio
04.28 by Zack Smith
Back for another installment of "JazzFest Sure Is Fun." The shows just slightly under the radar are the ones that keep calling to me this year. Our night began at the Tarantula Arms on Decatur to see A Living Soundtrack. As their name suggests, this NOLA band creates instrumental music that could be the backdrop for your own personal movie – an adventure in the mind. ALS features head-to-head keyboards led by Matt Aguiluz, who also plays keys and trumpet for local rock heroes Rotary Downs. I particularly loved their tripped out electronica version of Debussy's "Clair de Lune." There's a new sound bubbling out of New Orleans and it doesn't sound funky. Will the Big Easy be the birthplace of the next decade of rock?

From there, we hopped in a cab and raced up Canal to the new live music space, Chickie Wah Wah (think about the sound you make when you imitate a guitar with a wah wah pedal). We entered spooksville conjured up by an insane ensemble. Skerik's Maelstrom Trio is Skerik with N'awlins crazy boys Brian Coogan on keys and Simon Lott on drums. This night they were joined by a fourth, Brooklyn guitarist Mike Gamble, whose awesome weirdness put this show over the top.

Skerik & Jonathan Freilich - Maelstrom Trio
04.28 by Zack Smith
Gamble puts together this experimental jazz night every Monday at the little Bar 4 two blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn where Lott - a transplant in NY nowadays - is a frequent member of whatever group comes together on these nights. After leading us down the black hole spiral of outer space, Skerik addressed the crowd, "Thank you for joining us for singer/songwriter hour." This show was rockingly twisted – all four members down on the ground tinkering with gadgets and just going nuts. This is pretty much what you're looking for after dark in New Orleans.

Continue reading for Day 2 coverage of JazzFest...

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