My five days of music started on Wednesday Feb 27th at The Blue Note here in
NYC with a double bill featuring Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band and
Ray Barretto. This was week one of the Blue Note's Latin Jazz Festival 2002.
Jerry Gonzalez and band started things off and despite some sound problems
onstage, played a great set. Jerry alternated between trumpet and congas
throughout the set with amazing versatility. Next up was conga player and band
leader Ray Barretto who was nominated for a Grammy award on this Grammy
night. Sad to say, he didn't win but none the less he was in great spirits.
The list of legendary musicians that he has played with over the years is
too long to mention here but suffice to say, this man is truly a musical
treasure. He played the congas with exceptional feeling all the while making
sure he gave everyone in the band plenty of room for their own expression.
The week was
off to a great start.
Thursday night was a much anticipated Papa Grows Funk show at B.B. King Blues Club. Ya
know, it's never too early to start getting ready for Jazz Fest. June is
fine, but it's this time of year that the buzz really starts going. Schedule
is out, plans are being made and so on. A twin bill of John Mooney and Papa
Grows Funk was just what I needed. Although we were treated to two NYC PGF
shows last year, only one featured June Yamagishi on guitar and neither
featured Jason Mingledorff on sax. The band is rounded out by John Gros on
Hammond B3 and vocals, Marc Pero on bass and Russell Batiste on drums. This
was the first time I got to see this line up out side of New Orleans.
Blues man and New Orleans fixture John Mooney opened the show with two sets.
Having seen him several times before I was really looking forward to seeing
him. As usual he did not disappoint. If you haven't seen him in New Orleans
with his whole band do yourself a favor and check them out during Jazz Fest.
Tonight's sets were solo and although they sounded great it was not really
conducive to the party atmosphere that was building in B.B.'s. Beads and
feathered masks seemed to be everywhere thanks to a beer promotion and many
people planned ahead and took Friday off. After the first Mooney set I ran
over to the Hammerstein Ballroom to catch a little bit of Gorillaz. Let's
just say I found it interesting. Not exactly my cup of tea but with so much
buzz about the sold out show, I had to check it out.
Back to B.B.'s for Papa Grows. Great show. Two nice fat sets filled with New
Orleans favorites and PGF originals from their debut cd Doin It. Many
special guests also joined in starting with John Mooney. Here John got to
really stretch out and play off of June's guitar work. Later in the second
set Fuzz and Cyrus Madan from Deep Banana Blackout as well as a few horn
players I didn't know also joined in. A great Jazz Fest warm up. See you in
Friday night featured another Grammy nominee, Delbert McClinton at B.B.
King's. Totally different crowd from the night before but, it was Friday
night in NYC and even the older crowd came to party. Delbert has a great
voice and in addition to his originals covers some classics in his
Saturday night started off with a benefit show for the UN's Youth to Youth
program. Velour Presented New Legends of Jazz Guitar at B.B. King's featuring;
Rodney Jones (Blue Note Recording Artist), Will Bernard (Motherbug), David
Fiuczynski (Screaming Headless Torsos), Brad Barr (The Slip), and Eric
Krasno (Soulive) on guitar.
The house band featured Neal Evans (Soulive) on
keys, Sam Kinninger (Soulive) on sax, Charles Haynes (The Squad) on drums
and Matt Garrison (Torsos) on bass. What we got was four hours of some very
inspired music. Although billed as Jazz Legends most of the nights
selections owed more to the groove/funk genre but no one was about to
Some of the highlights for me were; Will Bernard's take on the Meters classic
"Look-Ka Py Py", Brad Barr's version of Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother" and
Eric Krasno's working of Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Lenny." Then there was the
encore where Eric Krasno was joined by Brad Barr and David Fiuczynski for
another Stevie Wonder classic "Jesus Children of America" that brought the
The house band for the night was great throughout and anytime
you give Neal Evans that much time and that many great musicians to work
with you're sure to get something special.
So, what do you do on a Saturday night in NYC after a show like that? You go
late night of course and luckily right down the block Will Bernard and Otherbug were tearing it up at Tobacco Road. The band featured Will on
guitar, Josh Roseman on Trombone, Deantoni Parks on drums, Matt Rubano on
bass and Adam Klipple on keys. It was great to get a double dose of Will
Bernard as I had never seen him perform before. Although the band was put
together for this show, they were very tight. The second set featured a sit
in from Sam Kinninger and the music continued until about 4am. The nights
musical marathon had to end at some point and Otherbug put a great cap on
While still recovering from the night before, I managed to drag my self back
to B.B.'s on Sunday night for the 3rd Annual High Times Stony Awards.
Hosted by Jim Breuer and featuring appearances from Snoop Dogg and George Clinton
the night promised to be interesting at the very least. The Stony's are High
Times version of the Oscars with awards ranging from Best Movie and Best
Actor to Stoner of the Year. Peter Shapiro, film maker and former owner of
The Wetlands here in NYC, presented Snoop Dogg with one of several awards he won.
Later in the night, George Clinton presented Snoop with the Stoner of
the Year award which I guess was the most prestigious award of the night.
Way to go Snoop, I had my money on you. Once the awards were done the after
party featured The Cannibus Cup Band (naturally). We were treated to a bonus
P-Funk set as George came out for a half hour medley of hits backed by the
CCB. Uhhhh, suffice to say some of the details are a little hazy but as I
left B.B.'s with the strains of "Atomic Dog" still playing in my head I
couldn't help but think to myself...what a week!
JamBase | NYC
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