There aren't too many outings I consider "Must See Events," but amongst about two or three others I can think of, JazzFest is clearly one of them. With close to 400 musical performers, 12 stages, 123 vendors, more food than you could possibly hope to consume, and music that literally runs 24 hours a day, this is THE place to be if you're serious about your music.

By Goody
But it's more than just the music; it's the alluring, mysterious, rockin', friendly and fearsome Crescent City itself. It's the people who come to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, drawing from a slightly more professional, and slightly less scummy fan pool than many of the places we will all be walking this summer. It's the thick air and slow pace you are forced to comply with. It's being able to stroll onto the Fairgrounds and be blown away by something you've never heard of, and know in the back of your mind that your favorite band is going to blow it up later that night. It's walking from venue to venue with a plastic cup and a new group of friends. JazzFest is all this and so much more, and that is why JazzFest is, and always will be one of those rare "Must See Events."

By Goody
Now don't be mistaken, these late night freak-outs down in NOLA have not always been part of the legendary Jazz and Heritage Festival. And the likes of you and I have not always flocked in masses to spill our wallets and drink more music than is even comprehendible. No, not at all. In 1997 Superfly Productions gave birth to the night and late night shows that some of us allow to dominate our JazzFest experience. And I empathize, believe me, I do. It's tough business being a professional music rager. But if you make it all the way down to New Orleans, where jazz grew out of the swamp and don't make it out the Fairgrounds, you might as well have just waited for Bonnaroo (another Superfly credit).

By Super Dee
But again, different people get different things out of JazzFest, New Orleans, and life in general. And I can't argue with staying up all night for the mayhem that just went down, because believe me, I did. And maybe the greatest thing that could ever happen to a spun out tour rat who somehow found himself at JazzFest would be to stay up all night and follow the pack to the Fairgrounds. Maybe this kid would stumble into the Gospel Tent find a little religion and then walk over and hear Astral Project. Maybe this guy would really learn something about music, about culture, about himself, and maybe it would change his life. But I digress...

By Michael Weintrob
JazzFest offers so much to so many people trying to cover it all, or even trying to place value on one thing over another proves futile, it's all in the ear of the listener. So this year, instead of giving you an up to the minute play-by-play like last year's JamBase JazzFest Chronicles, we here at the Base have spread out our voices and compiled a highlight reel of our favorite moments, shows, songs, sandwiches and what have you's from that second fabled week of JazzFest in New Orleans.

And just as each of us has our own way of enjoying JazzFest, we all have our own of expressing that experience. In light of all these varieties and options we decided it would be best to just allow each of our contributors an open page to bring the Big Easy to you. For example, I have chosen to give you, the reader a mini-review of the one show from each day that I found to be "the best" now that the haze has lifted.

The 34th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival all started Wednesday April 30th for The Kayceman. I more or less got off the airplane and bee-lined if for the brand new Twi-Ro-Pa. Wednesday night with Garage A Trois has sort of become an institution for me at JazzFest, and I wasn't even considering skipping it this year. I mean come on, Skerik on sax, Stanton Moore on drums, Charlie Hunter on spaceship 8-string guitar/bass, and Mike Dillon on vibes... Where the hell else would I be?

By Forrest Hirtzel
Shit was smoking from the get-go. While the sound wasn't the greatest in the converted warehouse, if you made it more than half way toward the stage it didn't really matter. The freaky foursome put on a great show spinning me around with enough Jack Daniels to clearly make me forget who or where I was. The massive show concluded with four additional sax players (making five with Skerik) blowing hard including Cheme (Cochemea Gastelum) from Robert Walter's 20th Congress, Jon Stewart from the Motet, Joel Bowers formerly of Jive and sax queen Jessica Lurie from the Living Daylights amongst other projects.

May 1st was yet another strong day, but amongst the myriad of music I witnessed on Thursday, the Fairgrounds won huge with a mind blower in the form of The Dave Holland Quintet. After a handful of Po-boys (soft shell crab won this event) and several herbal iced teas Dave Holland was just what the doctor ordered.

For those of you not familiar, Dave Holland is the living legend that played bass along side Miles Davis for numerous years and appears on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. While Holland was clearly the feature, his quintet with Robin Eubanks, Antonio Hart, Steve Nelson, and Billy Kilson held their chops and then some with everything and anything I laid ears on all week.

Friday May 2nd, Widespread Panic. I knew long before I stepped foot in NOLA that this was either going to be one of if not the highlight of the weekend for me, or a night that would make my stomach hurt and eyes water. For those that may not be aware I'm a raging SpreadHead, and I hadn't seen a show since the Greek Theater at the end of July 2002, a few days after lead guitarist and co-founder Michael Houser had been forced to stop touring, and a few days before he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. This show during JazzFest at the Municipal Auditorium would be the first time I felt up to seeing the band again.

And HOT DAMN it felt good! Now this clearly isn't the place to go into a long review of the Panic show, instead I'll just tell ya that I HAD FUN! And that's a lot more than I had last July. The new guitarist George McConnell is finding those spots he should be in, and is staying out of the others. The bands collective sound has come miles since my last outing, and front man John Bell has clearly taken George under his wing, and at least for me, the Widespread Panic ship is flying again. It's not back to par with the Mikey days, but that took more than 15 years, so lets just give them some time and let this thing spread out a bit. In less than one year George and the new Widespread Panic are "havin' a good time", smiling, and forging new ground. Amen!

Bleeding out of Friday's Widespread Panic mayhem came yet another southern Panic boogie-down, but this one was under the sun at the Fairgrounds. With a slot twice as long as any other performer WSP was clearly given the respect and time they need to get dirty. As far as the eye could see fists were pumping and bodies were wigglin'. As I stood, danced and screamed in reflection of what was happening a tear actually did come to my eye... and it creeped out of my shades long enough for me to realize that for the second time in my life, I was crying at a Panic show. But this time it wasn't because I thought it was over, but because I saw a new beginning. I thought it was gone forever, but now I guess I know it's just changing, like everything in life. The hot sticky set was highlighted by the "Thin Air (Smells Like Mississippi)" off their new release Ball, a slightly reworked "Driving Song" with "Porch Song" stuck in the middle, and "Fishwater" with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Not to mention my scratchy worn out voice yelling "Yeah George!" while toppling the nice people in front of me, I'm sure that was the highlight for them.

I also feel it is important to interject that part of me wishes I weren't such a Panic freak because while this set was rockin', a Herbie Mann reunion gig was going down with special guests Larry Coryell, David "Fathead" Newman and Chuck Rainey. I was aching to check that out, but I realized long ago that if Panic is playing there's really no other place I can be. If I did go anywhere else, all I'd be doing is wondering what the hell JB and Schools are up to anyway.

By Michael Weintrob
Saturday was a big one. I can't really claim Panic as the only highlight for two days in a row, not when later that night Ween and Colonel Claypool's Bucket Of Bernie Brains played across the street from one of the most epic Gov't Mule shows ever. The Mule came equipped with 13 bass players and over 20 special guests including Mike Gordon, Dave Schools, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Les Claypool, Los Lobos, and the list goes on and on, with Jason Newsted of Metallica being my personal favorite part of the Mule gig. (More on all of this later, I promise). And to top it off; around sunrise at the Blue Nile Skerik & Mike Dillon opened for the acoustic jazz stylings of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. I mean how can I even attempt to say what my single favorite part of this insane Saturday was? That's why I'm claiming all of Saturday as my personal favorite day of the fest.

Hangin' at the Blue Nile with Eenor and Les Claypool (both from the Frog Brigade) while Reed Mathis, Brian Haas and Jason Smart get in touch with aliens is as good of a night-cap as I can think of. While Reed was freaking people out by strapping a cello to his chest and rocking it like a guitar, Brian was trading keys with late-comers Marco Benevento (Benevento/Russo Duo) and Eric Levy (Garaj Mahal). Easing my mind on the deck upstairs at the Blue Nile, with good friends both old and new, brought me back to my first JazzFest, when the Blue Nile was the Dream Palace. Finally, stumbling back to my hotel in broad daylight and laughing to myself as I think of what I was just a part of... now that's JazzFest.

By Forrest Hirtzel
Sunday May 4th, the final day of this musical marathon. It's tough; by this point in the game you really gotta want it. Just as Garage A Trois on Wednesday seems like the right thing to do, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade at the legendary Tipitina's seems like just the right way to close things down. And once again, just like last year Les blew my mind. While I would like to see a wee bit more material in the mix, I really can't complain. The Pink Floyd opener, and the rendition of the Rolling Stones' "2,000 Light Years From Home" (with a really dark middle section) still have my head asking "huh?" And seeing Phish bassist Mike Gordon in some type of freak helmet bumpin' next to Les is an image I will not soon forget. And just being able to shake it down and close it out with so many wonderful people at Tip's seems to be what I crave for Sunday night in New Orleans.

Not only does JazzFest serve as both a history lesson and glimpse of where things are headed, but it is also sort of my way to swing back into the festival and music season. With a small self imposed hiatus after the holiday blow-outs it's nice to get back in the heat and turn my eyes toward the summer to come. JazzFest ain't for the weak, but there is certainly something for everyone. If you've never been, don't be too sad, we only have roughly 350 days to recover, and it's never too early to start planning. See y'all next year.

The Kayceman

This year's JazzFest once again proved to be a pure living example of my ultimate musical mecca. As in year past, the abundance of choices produced the overwhelming feeling that wherever I was, that was indeed the place to be. While some try to judge JazzFest by what they had to miss in order to see what they saw, I prefer to focus on what I did in fact see, and try not to regret missing anything, as there is simply too much going on to see it all.

By Michael Weintrob
From the onset, the vibe was hot as folks from all over the country converged to experience the southern hospitality and flare that only New Orleans is capable of supplying. I chose to start my experience by heading directly to watch the legendary Clyde Stubblefield, Reuben Wilson and Grant Green Jr. tear up the stage as The Masters of Groove. Issues and concerns from "the real world" immediately washed away as I was caught up in the true groove of the moment.

After their set, the wonderful Jessica Lurie appeared, needing a ride to Tipitina's. I refused hesitation and drove her Uptown to rock out with Marco Benevento & Joe Russo with Fuzz (DBB) and DJ Motion Potion sitting in. While there wasn't a sellout crowd in attendance, everyone there agreed that it was a special event and the perfect start to what will surely be a legendary weekend.

It was this flow that permeated the entire weekend, as I migrated from one event to the next, experiencing all I could that New Orleans and JazzFest had to offer. From an authentic jazz funeral parade for Earl King to the mother of all Shrimp Po-boys at Mother's Restaurant, my senses were spiced with a special vibe that is only really available once a year.

By Michael Weintrob
The Fairgrounds lineup this year was the perfect blend of earthly superstars and local heroes, not to mention the incredibly delicious local delicacies that give me a chance to dive back into the heritage that makes Louisiana so very special. Moving swiftly from the all time favorites of soft-shell crab po-boy, strawberry lemonade ("straw-lem") and Crawfish Monica ("the chronica") into the sweet sounds of Sunpie Barnes on the Congo Square Stage the buzzes got flowing immediately upon touchdown on the first day. From stage to food both and stage again, the flow of the fairgrounds every day never ceased to amaze me. There is truly something spiritually enlightening about eating white chocolate bread pudding while singing "Hallelujah!" to the Coolie Family Gospel Singers as they close out the Gospel Tent.

By F. Hirtzel
While the daytime Fairgrounds is truly the main event which draws me down to New Orleans every year for JazzFest (no, really, I mean it), it is of course complemented, if not over taken at times by the unbelievable talent and lineup that is the nighttime concerts. This year served as a wonderful reminder of the incredible goldmine of talent and inspiration we are sitting on here in our beautiful scene of music.

Some personal highlights of the evening time for me:

  • John Scofield ripping it up with Soulive at Tipitina's.
  • Umphrey's McGee taking over moe.'s instruments towards the end of the first set, launching into a beautiful jam, and then giving it back to them again.
  • Samantha's "Icicles" at Lizard Lounge - always the best.
  • Bernie Worrell and Jessica Lurie trading licks as Lush at Mama's Blues.
  • new monsoon performing their "perfect musical moment" during "Mountain Air."
  • Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe's rendition of "Cars Trucks & Buses" to a drunken Funky Butt bar.
  • Willie Waldman jumping to the sky during a superjam with freaks from moe & Umphrey's McGee.
  • Ween ROCKING harder than anyone in history.
  • Gov't Mule playing with 13 different bass players throughout the night. An incredible feat of a show pulled off perfectly! Get the DVD!
  • The Disco Biscuits on the Riverboat - some of the most powerful music I've come to love. Thanks boyz.
  • Tea Leaf Green closing out the weekend with The Beatles "I've Got a Feeling" at 7:45AM Monday morning... brilliant.

    Back to work, the buzz of the fest continues to flow into my daily life. I take pause as the workload returns and the concerns of the day and bigger world begin to once again enter my consciousness. When I need a moment, I think back to that feeling of sitting on the lawn listening to a local ragtime New Orleans band play a rendition of "The Entertainer" while eating my crawfish pie and realizing that for a few brief moments, everything was perfect in the world.

    So good to see you all down there, see you again next year.

    Andy Gadiel

    By Super Dee
    One of the week's highlights for me would have to be the show at the Orpheum Theater where Umphrey's McGee opened for moe. moe. has taken quite a shine to Chicago's Umph boys and the atmosphere in the venue was really friendly. Umphrey's played a strong early set chock full o' treats like "In the Kitchen," "Walletsworth" and "Prowler" which segued (in perfect Umphrey's style) into Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen." The only bummer was that it was a short set with no encore. But lo and behold, supermoe. to the rescue! They came out strong with "Plane Crash" and a great cover of "Up On Cripple Creek." Then, towards the end of the set in the middle of "The Faker," each member of Umphrey's came up to claim the spot with their respective moe. counterparts and each moe. member left the stage, one-by-one. Umphrey's got another shining moment to play their "Glory," everyone switched back, and then moe. closed the set with "Kids." Oh, those crazy kids...

    By F. Hirtzel
    Ween absolutely blew my f#$%ing mind! I think that Saturday night of JazzFest at the State Palace is probably the most optimal place to experience Ween. I was so flabbergasted that I couldn't even recall the last time I had seen the band which was at the Fillmore in San Francisco in front of your typical mellow SF crowd. This was a totally different situation. Smoke rising, everyone sweating, pumping fists, and screaming out "Booze Me Up & Get Me High" like they really really mean it... It was, as they say, "next level." I could not take my eyes of off Gene Ween who was flailing around on stage, yelling and carrying on, never missing a beat or a moment and proclaiming, "We're Ween. Fuck you." And, have no fear, Boognish was watching over it all with his wandering eye...

    Photo by Super Dee
    The Disco Biscuits ripped through the end of their tour with a couple of great JazzFest shows. The first was Wednesday late night into Thursday morning at the Howlin Wolf. Thanks to the "Spectacle" opener and the "Very Moon" encore, I couldn't even entertain the thought of taking off to go elsewhere or to get rested for the fairgrounds. But the boat party was the most fun and we were Ragin on the Cajun (Queen). The Biscuits have a knack for playing exactly what you want to hear at the right times. It's like they wrote songs that they knew would be perfect at certain moments. Band, crew and Bisco freaks embarked on the voyage with the wonderful sounds of "Magellan." While the band and dancers raged on below in the dark belly of the Queen, a wild dance party ensued on the upper deck where the speakers were set up. I've been on the boat many times, but have never seen the top deck dancing as hard as the bottom deck. Only the Bisco Kidz. We rolled along the Mississippi and got treats like "King of the World," "Overture," and "Basis for a Day" and as we returned to dock, "Magellan" reappeared with the appropriate ending verse:

    Earlier up this morning, as I sit upon the bow,
    In the distance, my homeland, but I just don't know how.
    Years along the sea, and I thought I'd find the sun.
    Once around the world, and now I think I'm done.

    JazzFest is like summer camp jammed into a handful of days. Great to see new and old friends and co-workers and mentors all sharing in the collective groove. Until next year...

    Super Dee

    JazzFest arrived once again, the savoir from the monotony of winter, precursor to the promise of summer. Each year, the gathering reinvents itself, the form taken by its inhabitants and the experience lassoed in ways seldom seen other times of year. As intoxicating as the Crescent City is, its greatest attributes are its food and music, and to overindulge has become custom.

    By F. Hirtzel

    Tuesday, my arrival eve, wasted no time getting reacquainted with NOLA down at Mama’s Blues with Brotherhood of Groove, whose performance reunited guitarist Brandon Tarricone with former drummer Dan Caro for a rocking set. Fusion jamming, jazz, reggae, bop and funk into a power packed ninety minutes. Wandered deep into the Quarter to a rock and roll bar called the Matador, built "in-the-round" (think Def Leppard Hysteria, but in a bar sized venue), and stumbled upon a Malachy Papers/Critters Buggin freakout. Mike Dillon and Skerik leading lesser known comrades like Brad Houser on a skronk-filled ride through NOLA’s boozy streets. Running through punk, metal, funk, free-jazz and gumbo between, a Skerik and friends highlight: shirtless, golden-maned Matador employee "Bobby" beckoning Skerik’s call, delivering a dead on Brian Johnson screech as the band plowed through AC/DC’s "Back in Black."

    Wednesday found more friends arriving in droves, an Earl King tribute parade (many musicians made mention of his passing throughout the weekend), and more stuffy NOLA heat. The early evening saw Garage a Trois kill it at Twi-Ro-Pa, dropping gems from their recently released album Emphasizer, and going off on tangents like only these four can. Guests spots from Maktub's vocalist extraordinaire Reggie Watts on another "Back in Black" (this one a little less punk, a little more swing), Calvin Weston and Elloit (Big Tree) on several blazing Garage joints roofed (as in tear it off!) JazzFest proper.

    By Goody

    Back at Tip's Uptown, Soulive was breaking shit off with Fred Wesley, Karl Denson and a host of others. Hitting up the Maple Leaf late, we found a Mofro party in top form. Vocalist JJ has got what it takes to get a party started and jumping, and his Mofro band mates upped the ante with some choice swamp boogie reminiscent of mid-nineties Galactic.

    Very late into the evening I arrived at Mama’s Blues for a nightcap, only to find my buddy Robbie K glowing after having jammed with some luminaries while I ran about town. Assistance came in the form of Adam Deitch’s militant and unwavering wrists, proving once again why he is my favorite drummer under thirty. Deitch, Rob Wasserman, members of Banyan, and others soothed in the morning hours with some syncopated funk and stomp, as I prepared for yet another raucous weekend in New Orleans at JazzFest.

    By Michael Weintrob

    Thursday was an eventful day at the Fairgrounds; crawfish bread, Crawfish Monica, mango freeze, and the other usual suspects were in attendance and being consumed at alarming rates. Woodenhead, with NOLA’s Bonerama horns, wowed with a blistering version of Led Zepplin’s "Kashmir," the North Mississippi AllStars cut bluesy riffs over swamping rhythms on the Acura Stage, making many new fans and stirring a boiling stew in the beating sun. Only serving to stoke such fire was the Dave Holland Quintet, with Philadelphia’s own Robin Eubanks on guitar. The Quintet’s precise and subtle maneuvering through obtuse compositions delivered to a very mixed and appreciative crowd at the Jazz Tent. However it was Papa Grows Funk who really kicked off the raging JazzFest vibes with a crunk set way out at the Louisiana Heritage Stage. Led by Hammond wunderkind John Gros, a far East Jimi in guitarist June Yamagishi, and drummer for all occasions Russell Batiste, this NOLA funk crew threw down massive. As the sun began to creep away and the Fairgrounds first day culminated, the organ sang and squealed, it was apparent to those grooving to PGF’s bounce that fest was really in full gear.

    By Goody

    Thursday evening saw us begin with the NOLA power trio Porter/Vidacovich/Yamagishi at Tipitina's French Quarter. This venue is phenomenal, and although it rarely hosts gigs these days, when they do it pays to go. All the pluses of Tip’s uptown plus its one third its size and in the middle of the Quarter! The trio, led by inimitable drummer Johnny Vidocavich and his patented shufflin’ boom bap, tore through a plethora of swinging grooves augmented by George Porter's muscular basswork and June Yamagushi’s acrobatic axe-wielding. As we patiently waited for Moore and More, my evil cell phone rang with some news, "Lenny Kravitz just walked into the House of Blues."

    I had already planned to see Karl Denson's Tiny Universe late at the HOB that evening, yet this was another matter. I had already missed the last Lenny/Karl fest collaboration a couple years ago, so I wasn’t going to miss another. So I just bailed the Tip's gig and hustled over a block to KDTU.

    By Dr. Shouse

    After the typical HOB line madness, I walked in to the greatest gift. The man, Lenny Kravitz, onstage with my favorite band, his former employee’s group, one that long surpassed his own: KDTU. The results were breathtaking. Lenny just borrowed a Fender Twin amp and Brian Jordan’s scorching green Gibson SG and plugged in. On paper, it was a typically sweet and succinct first set, yet Mr. Kravitz lends a level of cool and an aura that simply cannot be surpassed nor replicated.

    The second set, albeit without Mr. Kravitz, was equally hot, and lengthy as well. Showcasing new drummer John Staten, whose hoppin’ feet kept us moving well into the morning, the set was tight as can be. I would most certainly return to the HOB in twenty-one hours for another dose of Denson.

    Friday’s evening would begin with a visit to the New Orleans Coliseum to see my Philadelphia Sixers cancel the season on the New Orleans Hornets, a welcome diversion from the music halfway through my fest. Soon after I hustled down to Tip’s French Quarter for Robert Walter's 20th Congress, just missing their performance (Robert had a late night appearance scheduled so they played early.) I did certainly enjoy some more Mofro, particularly some authentic blues and even a sweet Yellowman cover, complete with JJ explaining the British rasta slang. Mofro’s drummer’s kit was miked so well I even approached the soundman to commend him on his craft. Sounded like Chuck Biscuits on the first Danzig record. Props.

    By Michael Weintrob

    Cruised down Frenchman Street to the Blue Nile for the American Jamstand, which was a superjam featuring Robert Walter, George Porter (seen left "chillin"), Mike Clark, Jim Payne, Dave Fucyzinski, Topaz, and others. The crew threw down some funky jams; while it was impressive, it was also somewhat meandering. Often the superjams don’t go anywhere, especially if those participating haven’t played much together. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. When they busted yet another "Cissy Strut," that was my cue. While American Jamstand was entertaining, I knew I was missing some heat down at the House Of Blues, so there I returned.

    By Dr. Shouse

    KDTU was rocking another hoedown, as I arrived the second set began, complete with a sweet appearance from rare-groove technician Melvin Sparks on guitar. He and Jordan passed the scorch torch to and fro, while KD and trumpeter Chris Littlefield matched with bright horn parts interspersed within the decadent jamming. The KDTU chestnut "Can You Feel It" was the band at maybe its finest I’d ever heard them, courtesy of Jordan, Johnson and Staten’s vicious sensual elixir. Spearhead’s Radioactive came with a freestyle and some scat to change up the game a bit, but it was the "BBQ song/Groove On" encore that sealed the deal for the heads and the haters who thought the Tiny Universe was just another funk band.

    By Mike Railey

    Saturday at the Fairgrounds was your typical scorching hot afternoon eating Cajun and Creole delights. Astral Project and Nicholas Payton & Sonic Trance opened some conservative festers' eyes in the Jazz Tent this afternoon. Nicholas was big pimpin in his zebra hat and white suit, but his horn sounded a lot like the Miles in the 70's that everyone misses. However, it was LL Cool J who really proved how bad he was this afternoon.

    I divided the rest of my afternoon with a little bit of Widespread Panic, but concentrated greatly on the spooky British reggae vibes of Third World at the Conga Stage. Their rendition of "Now that We’ve Found Love" was a bit cheesy, but the dub vibrations and a choice version of Bob’s "Natural Mystic" proved soothing to the weathered soul. At the Jazz Tent, Herbie Mann, complete with with oxygen tank, Larry Coryell, David "Fathead" Newman, and Chuck Rainey, were tearing through Herbie’s catalogue with reckless abandon. Saturday was a school day here in NOLA, no matta who’ya’ ahh!

    By Michael Weintrob

    I began the evening at an all-star jam that did indeed, prove to work, and well. The East vs. West Bayou Rendezvous was well attended and the musicians didn’t seem too worried about how to pull it off. I was only able to stay for the East Coast half of the show, but Marco Benevento and Joe Russo (whose duo were EVERYWHERE) led a serious wrecking crew through jazz standards and crunk grooves that seemed to peak and mellow at all the right times. Topaz, Cochema Gastelum (newly transplanted to Brooklyn), Sam Kinninger, Eric Krasno, and Justin Wallace killed it for just over an hour. Kraz took a screeching distorted hollowbody solo that recalled Gypsy-era Jimi, and it bled through the Howlin' Wolf rafters.

    By F. Hirtzel

    I left the Rendezvous early so I could see Colonel Claypool's Bucket Of Bernie Brains in its entirety. And I was not to be disappointed. Think Tool, Faith No More, 80s Primus and then warp it through the millennium. Buckethead, Bernie Worrel, Brain, and Les Claypool turned out another stellar 90 minute improv session of mammoth proportions. Pounding skins from Brain set the beatscience foundation for the other musicians, particularly Buckethead’s animated antics and fretboard mastery. Buckethead and Claypool acted out a strange play death scene in the rafters, then returned for some drums.

    By Dr. Shouse

    I followed Buckethead over to the Howlin' Wolf for another improv jam with the Cajun Fried Recipe, which included Mike Clark on drums, Rob Wasserman on basses, Ben Ellman on sax and Rich Vogel on keyboards. The results were good, although some parts were better than others. Mike Clark came up huge with metal-funk drumming, and Vogel’s arsenal of keyboards and synths fit nicely within Buckethead’s demented musical carnival. Highlights were the Floydian version of "Colma," and the lunacy of Buckethead’s solo gig oddities. Not to mention his prosthetic hand and plastic toys.

    Late in the morning we wound up at Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the Blue Nile, with the sun coming up, this southern tweaked trio serenely welcomed the new day with a small but ensconced group of worshippers.

    By Goody

    Sunday’s Fairgrounds highlights were blurry as I barely made it to the Fairgrounds at all. The Neville Brothers brought their NOLA blend to the Acura Stage in a festive family affair, the world’s greatest bar band the Radiators juiced the Louisiana Heritage Stage, but the afternoon belonged to the O’Jays. The Motown vibes and soultronic force was evidently warming the heated NOLA massive, but like the 6PM breeze that flowed through, so did the vibration from these musical heroes. "Love Train" united all revelers in the iriest of energy, and the dirtiest bass line ever played, "For the Love of Money," really resonated with the funky NOLA folk seeing the Fairgrounds through one more year.

    By F. Hirtzel

    Sunday evening, I was a bit disappointed in the Claypool Frog Brigade show at Tipitina’s, it simply couldn’t compete with last year’s epic JazzFest closer. Sure, it had its moments, but the "2,000 Light Years from Home” was light years from last year. It all just seemed a little redundant. Even a Mike Gordon appearance couldn’t save the show. However the evening was indeed saved by a crucial set down at the Shim Sham Club from Cut Chemist. Just raw funk 45’s and smooth R&B that was soothing and calming for the JazzFest comedown. A proper Igor’s morning sendoff, and my JazzFest 2003 was complete.

    I know I missed a lot, and I saw even more, but hard as ya try you’ll never see it all. See ya next year!


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  • [Published on: 5/10/03]

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