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 April.

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 distinguished style.

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 complain. 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 house down. 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 the night.

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!

Dino Perrucci
JamBase | NYC
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[Published on: 3/6/02]

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