Jazz Fest | 04.24-04.26 | New Orleans, LA

Saturday | 04.25.09

Imagination Movers Crowd :: Jazz Fest 2009 by Grayson
Day Two featured three of the most disparately exhilarating sets you could ever hope to hear in a single day at single music festival. It began at the Acura Stage with the Imagination Movers, a group that had thousands of kids, parents, and plenty of others dancing and chanting along to giddy songs about mac-n-cheese and healthy snacks. The Movers, a New Orleans group with a television show on the Playhouse Disney channel, tweaked popular rock songs into kid-friendly numbers, with plenty of banter thrown in between. On "My Favorite Snack," they turned the famous Kiss chorus on its head: "I want to rock 'n' roll all day, and sleep well every night!"

An hour later, the Young Tuxedo Brass Band was giving a packed house at the Peoples Health Economy Hall Tent a lesson in the vivacity and importance of the brass band. Founded in 1938, the group is one of the oldest active brass bands in New Orleans, and is made up of mostly musicians that have passed the half-century mark. Led by trumpeter Greg Stafford, the 11-piece group tore through jazz funeral and brass band standards like "Over in the Gloryland," as the Lady Jetsetters Marching Club twirled their parasols and swayed through the aisles, picking up prospective marchers along the way. This was one of those moments that stamped a luminescent sheen on the rest of the day.

That sheen never faded, but if it had by the time Ile Aiye took the Jazz & Heritage Stage, it would have been rejuvenated in spades. The Afro-Brazilian percussion group hails from the city of Salvador in Bahia, Brazil and it plays with an unquenchable fire. The songs, rooted in the Candomblé religion, feature call-and-response chants in Portuguese and Yoruba over blistering arrays of percussion. The 12-piece band didn't take its foot off the gas once, and was enough to rouse any skeptic. As Pharoahe Monch once said, "If you're holdin' up the wall, then you're missing the point."

Wilco :: Jazz Fest 2009 by Grayson
There were a number of other sets scattered throughout the day, with varying degrees of success. Erykah Badu's incredible 2008 album New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War was strange, psychedelic and terribly soulful. In her set at the Congo Square "My Louisiana" Stage, Badu reminded fans that bold eccentricity brings both rewards and consequences. Starting almost 15 minutes late, Badu let her band play a mellow, monotonous 10-minute instrumental intro before she took the stage and eased into a nearly sedate "Green Eyes." The set was jazzy, nuanced and spare, but it was not the way to get the crowd amped at the end of a long day of music, food, drink and sunshine. The set picked up a bit, particularly on the strange brew of "The Healer," but with so many other acts to choose from, many headed elsewhere.

Over at the Gentilly Stage, Wilco's set to close out the day was solid, particularly Nels Cline's lap steel playing on the opener, the country blues-tinged "Walken" and "Handshake Drugs." The Rebirth Brass Band was joined by co-founder Kermit Ruffins for a few tracks of its bombastic set, and on the heels of Young Tuxedo's set, Rebirth showed just how much the brass band sound has changed over the years, with a much heavier emphasis on grooves and hip-hop-style shout-outs to the crowd. Emerging trumpeter Shamarr Allen and Rebirth trombonist Corey Henry sat in with Galactic for a set that was an absolute master class in musicianship, while Jamaican reggae group Third World used its popular tune "Reggae Ambassador" to dig into a medley that included Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" and Peter Tosh's "Legalize It."

And if the Young Tuxedos weren't proof enough that age is just a number, 90-year-old folk icon Pete Seeger, joined by his grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, performed a set of protest songs, many of which sadly seemed as relevant today as when he wrote them. Joined by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's Ben Jaffe on sousaphone, the group played "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister," which saw the packed field sing along in unison to the timely line, "Give me back my job again." Rodriguez Seeger said, "That one goes out to Wall Street."

Corey Henry bringing it to the people with Galactic :: Jazz Fest 2009 by McCullough

Continue reading for coverage of Sunday at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival...


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