The Revivalists, The Mint

September, 11, 2012 Jazz Fest’s surprise moments can happen any time. One of mine came this year when The Revivalists kicked off the Fest from the Gentilly stage before noon on the opening Friday. While the band has played the Fest the past few years, I was in the dark until that set. Familiar to many native Orleaneans and carving a broader audience through touring in support of acts such as Dr. John, Trombone Shorty and Galactic (and in the next few weeks, Gov’t. Mule), their Fest set was passionate, captivating, and raised the bar early for one of the better Fests ever. Led by guitarist/vocalist David Shaw, the band puts Ed Williams blazing pedal steel right up front with horns, keys and a committed rhythm section to deliver what the esteemed David Fricke dubbed “a Crescent City-rhythm spin on jam-band jubilee”.  To my ear, this is soul-jam influenced rock from New Orleans, with the New Orleans influences taking more of a back seat to driving and occasionally chimey guitars, Shaw’s growl and an undeniable we came to play stage presence (Shaw’s off stage forays and Williams overtopping his pedal steel were sweet spot material for this photographer).   The […]

Terence Blanchard Quintet, Catalina Bar & Grill

August 17, 2012 There are few musicians I can point to more visually evocative than Terence Blanchard (and I’m not just talking about his 20+ year filmography). Blanchard paints fully expressed textures with sound, creating jazz that is emotive, vibrant and at times, startlingly beautiful. I literally see what he’s playing. Then again, I may just have a vivid imagination.   Like many, I was first introduced to Blanchard’s work through his Spike Lee scores and his reputation as yet another anointed young lion of the horn. As my relationship with New Orleans music grew to near obsession, so did my affection for Blanchard and I never miss an opportunity to catch him when I can. His connection with his hometown courses through his work. Not just his score to “When the Levees Broke”, or his Grammy winning “A Tale of God’s Will (Requiem for Katrina)”, but in absorbing the richness, emotion and soul of the place often referred to as the birthplace of jazz. Blanchard is not a formal traditionalist that dwells in the past. He makes new music out of old roots. While New Orleans is in his bones and always will be, it is not expressed in […]

Honey Island Swamp Band Returns to The Mint

August 14, 2012 It’s apropos that the Honey Island Swamp Band would return for a summer gig at The Mint following an appearance at Outside Lands the prior weekend. After all, the Bay Area figures so prominently in this NOLA band’s origin story. Stranded by Katrina. Crescent City players a long way from home. Meet up on the west coast. Bond big time. Keep their chops strong. Throw a few songs together. Land a regular gig in the heart of town. Cut their debut in the one and only Record Plant in Sausalito. It could only happen….where?   This is their third trip to The Mint in 14 months. That’s not a bad thing. Whether it’s covering their LA dates, staking their ground from the big stage at the Fest or enjoying their pop up everywhere Fest club dates, I have been a fan since first catching them at Jazzfest in 2008.  The Bay Area meets bayou influences are everywhere in the HISB sound. Solid songwriting, tight arrangements and enough room to stretch, their self-coined “bayou americana” is rootsy strings first stuff. Swamp driven, but not dripping, and often sprouting ensemble fed jams from tasty hooks, HISB sets include staples […]

Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang, City National Grove of Anaheim

August 10, 2012 Into the blues or not, it was impossible not to look forward to the crossroads on the road summit of Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang – two giant slingers for the ages. Myself, I’ll get me some 8/12-bars all night long from just about anybody, let alone these guys. Seriously, I was raised as far from the blues as a Westwood kid could get, yet the in your bones familiarity and launchpad of guitar heroes past, present and future intoxicated me early on. Blame Clapton. Blame Hendrix. Blame Duane Allman. The roots of my personal soundtrack lie in the blues and blues driven rock. Few musical idioms are as simple, fundamental and elemental. And in this day of economic hardship and digital overload, the blues have never been more important.   The setup of Lang, the original teenage blues phenom (now 31-year old father of three) with Buddy Guy, the elder Chicago blues king, could not be passed up. The Fargo born Lang was signed to A&M at 15 and “Lie to Me”, the first of his four studio albums was released in 1997 (his most recent effort is 2009’s “Live at the Ryman”). These two actually […]

Moncef Genoud Trio, Vitello’s

July 12, 2012 Jazz is constant discovery. Notes become threads, stories become journeys. Artists find a larger audience. Old things are expressed in new and surprising ways. All were elemental to the first of two nights with the Moncef Genoud Trio at Vitello’s. Blind since birth, born in Tunisia, but calling Switzerland home his entire life, he has performed widely throughout Europe, and internationally, his whole career. He is no stranger to the continent’s most important jazz stages, including appearances at Montreux and North Sea. Mr. Genoud’s US performances are special events.   Mr. Genoud has released 11 studio albums since the late ‘80s , with several distributed through smaller European or Japanese outlets. His last two releases, 2006’s “Aqua” (on Savoy Jazz), and 2010’s “Metissage” (Rollin’ Dice Productions) are a doorway to a remarkable career and talent.  The three covers from “Aqua” (Gershwin’s “Summertime”, Coltrane’s “Moments Notice” and Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”) interpret these compositions with respect and originality (especially “Moment’s Notice” which takes flight under Genoud’s right hand, swinging gently without jumping too high or hard). “Aqua” also features some of the late Michael’s Brecker’s last released recordings. His tenor turns a beautiful companion to Genoud’s compositions (check the […]

Robert Walter Residency, with the 20th Congress, The Mint

June 13, 2012 There is no sound quite as satisfying as a Hammond B-3 organ through a Leslie speaker. In the right hands, the B-3 can be pure blues drenched, Sunday church joy, straight up bop, prog rock majesty, soul master and classic rock anchor. While the last B-3 rolled off the line in the mid-70s (says Wiki), the legacy of the sound is completely unmistakable. It has been a signature for the likes of Gregg Allman, Stevie Winwood, Keith Emerson, Booker T. Jones, Stephen Stills, Jimmy Smith, Ray Manzarek, to name but a few. More recently, a newer generation of players, some with deep New Orleans ties, have led B-3 driven ensembles including the likes of Marco Benevento, LA’s own Mike Mangan and Robert Walter, who began a June residency at The Mint last week. Southern California native and New Orleans resident Walter chose his Mint residency to reconvene the 20th Congress for their first performance in 5 years. The former Greyboy launched the Congress in the late ‘90s and counts Stanton Moore, Will Bernard and Joe Russo among its alumni. This gig featured original Greyboys Walter and Chris Stillwell, bass, with Cochemea Gastelum, sax/flute (Sharon Jones), Chuck Prada, […]

Matt Chamberlain Residency with Bill Frisell, The Mint

May 30, 2012 A guitar’s frequent absence from a jazz arrangement is both a uniqueness of the idiom and distinguishes it from the string driven sound of rock and blues. As an early ‘70s kid I was wide eyed about rock and all about guitars. When I discovered jazz and found horns and keys where strings should be, it both opened me up and whet my appetite. While I knew Joe Pass was the greatest living player of the day and no one could touch Wes Montgomery, I was not drawn to those stylings as I am now. My attention span was short. I was the rock enthused, looking for the rock infused. Jazz crossover in both directions spoke to me. Sure, fusion filled the gap. Early Return to Forever, the Mahavishnu Orchesta. Buried alive under all those notes never felt so good. Yet, it was not enough. I wanted touch, space, soul, too. The mid-‘70s through the early ‘80s were fertile ground for a fresh approach. Pat Metheny teased new elements into a guitar led quartet with a traditional tone played in untraditional ways and settings. It didn’t attack. It slipped. It flowed. John Abercrombie, was literally, timeless. His […]
Jun 06
by Jim Brock in Reviews 1 comments tags: Acura Stage, Al Green, Allen Toussaint, Anders Osborne, Beach Boys, Ben Jaffe, blues guitar, Blues Tent, Bonnie Raitt, bottleneck slide, Bruce Hornsby, cajun music, Charles Neville, classic rock, concert photography, Congo Square Stage, Corey Henry, Dap Kings, Derrick Shezbie, Esperanza Spalding, Eye on the Music, Florence + the Machine, Florence Welch, Gabriela Quintero, Galactic, Gary Clark, Generations Hall, Gentilly Stage, George Porter, Gibson ES-335, Glen David Andrews, Glen Hansaard, Gospel Tent, Grace Potter, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Herbie Hancock, Intsruments A Comin', Irma Thomas, James Cotton, jazz, jazz photography, Jazz Tent, Jim Brock Photography, John Boutte, Johnny Vidacovich, Joseph Lastie, Lakland bass, Leo Nocentelli, live music, Mike Love, music photography, My Morning Jacket, New Orleans jazz, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans music, New Orleans Musicians for Obama, Noisemakers, Patrick Hallahan, Paul Sanchez, pedal steel, piano, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Radio Music Society, rebirth Brass Band, Rodrigo Sanchez, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Savoy Music Center, Sharon Jones, Soul Rebels Brass Band, soul singers, sousaphone, Stanton Moore, Stratocaster, surf music, Swell Season, Takamine, Terence Higgins, The Meters, The Revivialists, Threadhead Records, Tipitina's, Tipitina's Foundation, Treme, trombone, Trombone Shorty, trumpet, tuba, Voice of the Wetlands, Warren Haynes, Warren Haynes Band, zydeco music

Jazzfest 2012 Reflections

From the Revivalists passionate opening Gentilly set to the final moments of Springsteen’s plaintive reading of Saints, the first weekend of Jazzfest 2012 was an abundance of special moments.  Yes, the draws were the Acura headliners. Petty and Bruce delivered deep satisfying sets (from what I was able to catch), and Springsteen’s presence was a rallying cry of celebration and reflection. A reminder of how New Orleans has healed since his epic 2006 post-Katrina Seeger Sessions appearance, and how far there is still to go. Even the Beach Boys brought their game, judging by the smiles and sing alongs from a nice size Acura crowd. But, hey, did you check out Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 at Congo Square?  The four generations of players from 9 to 90+ that filled the Fais Do Do on Saturday for the Savoy Music Center Cajun Jam? How about Bon Iver’s stirring (and unexpected) connection with the Jazzfest crowd? Gary Clark, Jr. absolutely tearing down the Blues Tent opposite the Boss with Texas blues that left teeth marks? Not to mention the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars and Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen showing Tom Petty how it’s done in New Orleans. […]

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Jack DeJohnette, Catalina Bar and Grill

May 15, 2012 It’s been said that Los Angeles is a tough jazz town. New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago all have thriving jazz scenes in vibrant urban settings. Los Angeles, with its diasporadic lifestyle and geography, requires the jazz enthusiast to turn seeker. Rarely are things stumbled upon. The displacement of the Jazz Bakery last year was another (temporary) blow, so with a few newcomers and a handful of others who keep the faithful coming, Catalina’s Bar and Grill has always loomed large. For good reason. When jazz royalty pays a visit, the devoted must rise. Such is the case with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Jack DeJohnette spending the better part of a week here, and two shows nightly at 6725 Sunset Boulevard. This is a constellation of VSOP proportions. I’ve posted on the life altering effect RTF had on my young and evolving mind, when the reunion tour hit the Greek last September. The chance to see Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke in a straight ahead trio with the soon to be 70 Jack DeJohnette was/is not to be missed.   Drumming greats must share some cosmic mixologist. The elixir that keeps Roy Haynes swinging in his […]

Vaud & the Villains, The Mint

March 17, 2012 “Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future”. Turns out every Villain has a story, too. The “19-piece 1930s New Orleans Cabaret and Orchestra show” that goes by Vaud & the Villains seems to have stepped out of time to deliver us from ourselves. With the likes of The Animal, Big Daddy, Honeychild, Silky, Preacher, Babyface, Peaches Mahoney, Shady Sadie, Low Down Kate and a seeming cast of thousands under the watchful eye of one Vaud Overstreet, these Villains transport all who enter to an age when liquor only flowed through speakeasys, gals were skilled at financially relocating men’s wallets, and hard luck was religion.  Yeah it’s 2012, and they time-travel seamlessly. Part revival, part burlesque and all in, Vaud & the Villains dig deep into gospel, rhythm and soul, blues, New Orleans brass and Americana, to create a performance that resonates, entertains and seduces. This is a committed bunch – to the music, to the presentation and to the enjoyment of the audience. They have to be. Travelling from gig-to-gig with at least 4 horns, 3 singers, 2 dancers, fiddle, banjo, drums, upright bass, sousaphone, acoustic guitar and “one-string” guitar (as was the configuration […]