Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some JazzFest recommendations for Day 3 Sunday May 1

Lil Buck Sinegal
This is the final in my list of recommended shows for the first week of JazzFest, which is the weekend I am attending. I should mention that for those outside of New Orleans, WWOZ ( broadcasts selected concerts from the Festival and Monday May 1, they hold their annual Piano Night Fundraiser at the House of Blues, which is also broadcast.

11:15 AM in the Gospel Tent - Jo “Cool” Davis with guest James “Sugarboy” Crawford. The Gospel Tent features many great performers. Jo ‘Cool’ Davis is a singer that will suggest Bobby Bland for fans of blues and rhythm’n’blues, Special guest is James ‘Sugarboy’ Crawford, who led the cane Cutters and had a major hit with Jock-A-Mo, which folks may know as Iko-Iko. Crawford has given up secular music to sing gospel.

Luther Kent
12:20PM in the Blues Tent - Lil Buck Sinegal. After leading Lil Buck and the Gold Tops which included organist Stanley ‘Buckwheat Zydeco’ Dural, he played fort a number of years with zydeco king Clifton Chenier. A fine blues singer and guitarist, he is part of Buckwheat Zydeco’s band today. Its always a treat to see him play on his own.

12:30PM in the Jazz Tent - Jazz & Blues feat. Luther Kent, Phillip Manuel, and Big Al Carson. An intriguing appearnace together on stage of Bourbon Street staple, Big Al Carson; blues belter Luther Kent who once fronted Blood Sweat and Tears; and the smooth jazz vocal style of Manuel promises some musical fireworks.

Frankie Ford
12:50PM on the Gentilly Stage. Classic New Orleans Revue with Frankie Ford, Jean Knight and others. With the Blue Eyed Soul Band, Ford, who rocked the world with Sea Cruise for Ace Records in the 1950s and Knight, who had a smash hit with Mr. Big Stuff lead a revue to take folks back to the heydays of New Orleans rhythm and blues.

Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher
2:00PM at the Lagniappe Stage - Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher. McDermott is a marvelous pianist who can rag a Bach composition, make you think he studied under Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton as well as mesmerize you with his interpretations of Brazilian choros. Evan Christopher is a Jazz Journalists Association finalist for Jazz Clarinetist. He is rooted in the New Orleans clarinet tradition but also will play in a gypsy jazz context interpreting Ornette Coleman. He and McDermott make magic together when they are paired like at this set.

Deacon John at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
3:00PM at the Gentilly Stage. Deacon John. Once a studio regular who grew up with music on the streets and in his home, Deacon John Moore can croon a standard with silky smoothness as well as revive an old The Spiders' classic I Didn't Want to Do It, or play slide guitar and revive Elmore James' Happy Home. A consummate entertainer, superb musican and singer, Deacon John always has tight bands that can jump an older Roy Brown classic as well as rework vintage B.B. King. His annual JazzFest performances are a treat. For recordings, sample Deacon John's Jump Blues

Red Baraat
5:55PM on the Jazz & Heritage Stage - Red Baraat. Led by Sunny Jain on the d’hol, hand held drum, Red Baraat superficially might be called Bollywood meets Bourbon Street, but in addition to the infectious grooves built upon Punjabi songs there is some strong solos. In addition to the leader, pay attention to the brilliant trumpeter, Sonny Singh and Mike Bomwell’s baritone sax. I have seen them at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and recently at the Kennedy Center, and I look forward to their joyous music with plenty of heart but also substance. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Some JazzFest recommendations for Day 2 Saturday April 30

Shannon McNally
For Day 2 of the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival I have a selected several acts that may be lesser known but should be of interest. 

Charlei Gabriel
11:15 AM on the Gentilly Stage. Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce. I saw Shannon as one of the guests with Lil Band of Gold at their trubute to Bobby Charles held at the House of Blues between the two weekends of the 2010 JazzFest. A fine roots. She may be one of the guests at this year’s Bobby Charles tribute on April 29 and hosts her own Charles tribute with guests including C.C. Adcock and David Egan at Chickee Wah Wah, Saturday April 30. She has recorded a Bobby Charles Tribute album Small Town Talk but I am not sure if it has been issued. Jon Pareles of the NY Times has written: “She has the voice: bruised, smoky and ornery, right at home where country and soul meet… She has the melodies and the timing… she’s irresistible.” 
Alvin Youngblood Hart

12:25 in the WWOZ Jazz Tent - Kidd Jordan & the Imporvisational Jazz Ensemble. There is little free or avant garde jazz at JazzFest. Kidd Jordan is the exception and the JazzFest website states “
His deep roots in all music makes his sound accessible to open-eared, novices of free jazz.”

1:40PM at the WWOZ Jazz Tent -The Tenor Sax Woodshed feat. Christian Winther and Charlie Gabriel. I saw tenor saxophonist Charlie Gabriel last year as part of an organ combo and was impressed. I later told that for years he torued with the likes of Aretha and was currently part of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band touring ensemble. Whatever, his playing really impressed me and I assume Mr. Winther brings a similar robust tenor style.

2:30PM in the Blues Tent - Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory. One of the young blood acoustic blues guitarists that included Corey harris that showed an affinity for performing classic country blues. He is more of a modern day songster these days and I have seen him do rock and roll and rockabilly with equal authority.

Pine Leaf Boys
3:00PM on the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage - Pine Leaf Boys. This is a terrific, traditionally oriented cajun band with respect towards tradition, and with considerable exuberance.

John Boutté
4:05PM in the WWOZ Jazz Tent - John Boutté. Given the boost from his association with the Tréme HBO show, John Boutté’s profile has risen. A terrific vocalist who transcends jazz and can deliver a classic New Orleans R&B Chuck Carbo classic as strongly as San Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, or his own loving tribute to his sisters, Sisters.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some JazzFest recommendations for Day 1 Friday April 29

Corey Ledet
I will be heading down to New Orleans for the Annual Jazz & Heritage Festival for the first weekend. I will also be attending Lil’ Band O’ Gold’s Bobby Charles Tribute at the House of Blues’ Parish Room on Friday Night and WWOZ Piano Night on Monday May 2. Of course this assumes no problems with my flight getting down there, etc. However, here are some recommendations of lesser known performers that you should think about seeing. I have avoided major touring acts like Jeff Beck, Robert Plant or Tom Jones or Wyclef Jean and also some of my favorites like the Joe Krown Trio and Irma Thomas.

For Day 1 here are several acts of note

11:15 at the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do Do Stage - Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band. Ledet is among the more traditional of today’s zydeco acts, but certainly can lay down a hot two step or waltz. He can channel Clifton Chenier or John Delaphose, and do a zydeco take of an Elvis hit, Burning Love. He has a fine CD A Matter of Time as well as with Cedric Watson recorded the excellent Going Down to Lousiana.

Henry Gray
12:00 in the Blues Tent - Henry Gray & The Cats. Howling Wolf’s pianist for over a decade before he moved back south to Baton Rouge for the past four decades or so where he has mixed in his Big Maceo influenced piano style heard on recordings by Wolf, Jimmy Rogers and others with a healthy dose of Louisiana Swamp Blues exemplified by his Cold Chills. He has never received the acclaim of a Pinetop Perkins, but in my mind he is Pinetop’s equal and a better singer. His annual JazzFest appearance is always a treat.

12:15 in the WWOZ Jazz Tent - Derek Douget. If Derek had moved out of New Orleans, he is a saxophonist people would be talking about. I have seen him play with the marvelous trumpeter Maurice Brown as well as with Irwin Mayfield’s NYNO. He has a terrific CD, Perpetual Motion, as well as appeared to numerous cds including those by Adonis Rose, Leah Chase, Maurice Brown and Ellis Marsalis (He is the saxophonist on An Open Letter to Thelonious).
Derek Douget

1:30 in the WWOZ Jazz Tent - Germaine Bazzle. . What can one add to New Orleans jazz Diva, a singer of exquisite tone, taste and nuance. Always has some of Crescent City’s best musicians supporting her.

Germaine Bazzle
2:45 at the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do Do Stage - Warren Storm - Willie Tee & Cypress. As a drummer, One probably cannot count the number of recordings Warren Storm played on (many Excello swamp blues classic) but he is also a great blues-eyed soul singer which can be heard when he anchors Lil’ Band ‘0 Gold. I am less familiar with Willie Tee Trahan, but the saxophonist and Storm hooked up in the 1980s playing bars throughout the Gulf Coast and recording some fine ‘swamp pop.’ Really looking forward to seeing them.

Warren Storm
4:00PM in the WWOZ Jazz Tent - Anat Cohen Quartet. She is becoming a perennial nominee for Best Clarinet Player in the Jazz Journalist Awards and the DownBeat Awards. Conversant with traditional swing, hard bop and world music, the Israeli born Anat will be also leading her Quartet on Saturday in the People’s Health Economy Hall Tent which might suggest two very different performances displaying two different sides of this remarkable msuician and composer.]

There are a few selections. Plenty of other great music including John Mooney, Donald Harrison, Jon Cleary, Los Hombres Caliente, Keb' Mo and the Golden Striker Trio featuring Ron Carter. 
Anat Cohen

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tiempo Libre's Afro-Cuban Bach in Havana

Based in Miami, the Cuban Tiempo Libre bring their Afro-Cuban style to the timeless compositions of Bach for a stunning recording on Sony Classical, Bach in Havana. Its a lively romp taking some of the most celebrated musical themes and totally reworking them for an exhilarating ride that will have the listener having an almost impossible time sitting still. This opens with the Carnaval romp, Tu Conga Bach, derived from “Fugue In C Minor, The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1, which states the theme at the beginning before the layers of percussion and instruments turn up the heat. 

Jorge Gómez, the groups keyboard player recalls his own childhood going to the Russian run Conservatory in Havana where the Afro-Cuban music was forbidden, and then playing their native music at night while going to sleep listening to Bach. Fuga, perhaps stays close to its roots in Sonata in D Minor, with Gómez’s classical training evident in a performance which is enlivened by the spring like rhythms. This is followed by Air on G String, with Paquito D’Rivera featured on alto saxophone and the performance is like a conversation between him and Gómez. D’Rivera, this time on clarinet, is also for Gavotte (Son), based on French Suite No. 5 in G Major, with some stunning trumpet from Chistobal Ferrer García.

Gómez observes that the opening in 
Mi Orisha (6/8 Bala), calls on the Yoruba tradition with a solo on the shekeré by Yosvany Terry, before some lovely piano from Gómez is punctuated by soaring brass lines. By the time the last tones on “Kyrie,” based on (Mass in B Minor), linger in one ear, one has been through an musical journey mixing stunning musicianship, breathtaking grooves and a musical imagination and intelligence that is likely to be recognized as one of the premiere recordings, irrespective of genre, of 2009.

The group’s website is, but this should be relatively easy to find. Incidentally there is a promotion with Java Cabana Coffee in connection with this disc. Go to for a variety of coffees including the commemorative can of Cafe Bustelo Expresso Coffee created to celebrate the release of Bach in Havana, as well as a chance to listen to four tracks and download one tone.

The review copy for this was provided by a publicist for this release. This review appeared originally in the June, 2009 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 317).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rosen and Jenkins Explore The Ache of Possibility

Songwriter Louis Rosen and actress Capathia Jenkins may have formed what superficially looks like a surprising partnership, but the pair has drawn attention with their recordings, South Side Stories, a song-cycle by Rosen, and One Ounce of Truth, a mix of jazz, blues, soul, pop and more based on the words of the famed African-American, writer and poet, Nikki Giovanni. They have a new release on Di-Tone, The Ache of Possibility. It is comprised of mostly Rosen originals along with several more pieces where he has set the words of Nikki Giovanni to music.

The tone is set with
How You Gonna Save ‘Em?, with Nikki Giovanni’s words “How you gonna save them,If they Can’t learn how to pray/ Give “em a song i guess/ To chase those blues away,” as Capathia belts out the words set against a bluesy backing with solid horn support. The backing core is Rob Moose on electric guitar, Dave Phillips on electric bass, Gary Seligson drums with Louis playing acoustic guitar, with others adding musical color such as Andrew Sterman on sax and Glenn Drewes on trumpet. On the title track they provide a jazzy setting. Rosen’s I Want to Live to Love You, is a marvelous folk-tinged love song with nice interaction between Rosen’s acoustic guitar and Moose’s electric playing as Capathia achingly delivers the lyric of yearning. The title track opens with Phillips on acoustic bass as Capathia sings a world gone wrong as she pleads for us to make it better also seeing the ache of possibility and lift our voices to overcome the aches of disappointment with horns, marimba and violin providing a jazzy flavor here.

Louis takes a slightly gruff, almost talking, vocal with Moose joining for an acoustic guitar duet with rhythm ,
The Middle Class (Used to Be) Blues, reciting a litany of things that have gone down as rent’s not paid, his shoes need soles, and his IRA has gone RIP. Moose turns to violin behind Capathia for Winter Daze, a dreaming song about floating through Winter with hard times with a nice sax break also. Nikki Giovanni’s poem on conservation Love Is In Short Supply, is given a lively New Orleans R&B flavor while the setting for Giovanni’s Choices, evokes Van Morrison as Capathia delivers the message “if i can’t do/ what i wan’t to do/ then my job is to not/ do what i don’t want/ to do,” with Drewes adding muted trumpet and Mark Sherman adding a crystalline vibraphone solo. Rosen is himself a capable lyricist as on his vocal duet with Capathia, I Need You. “I need you/ like a seed needs the rain/ Love I need you/ Like pleasure needs pain…” as Sterman plays clarinet here and Moose adds violin.

Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen make some marvelous music together. Her stage-experienced voice can be powerful yet she also expressed the aches and vulnerabilities we all feel so convincingly. Rosen has set the wonderful uplifting poetry of Nikki Giovanni as well as his own words in varied and lively musical settings that are fused with soulful blues feeling and a jazz sensibility.
The Ache of Possibility is available along with their earlier CDsCDs at, and from cdbaby and amazon and downloadable at itunes, amazon, cdbaby and other sources.

The review copy was supplied by a publicist for the recording. This review originally appeared in the May 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 325).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Delta Moon Takes The Hellbound Train

Delta Moon, a blues-rooted Atlanta based band features the twin slide guitars of Tom Gray (also a notable songwriter who wrote for Cyndi Lauper (Money Changes Everything), Carlene Carter and others) and Mark Johnson. While both started playing in rock bands, before both started playing slide guitar and started playing together adding bass and drums they started playing nightclubs. Bassist Franher Joseph and drummer Darren Stanley joined Delta Moon in 2007. Red Parlor Records (Blues Boulevard in Europe) has just issued Delta Moon’s sixth CD Hellbound Train. Gray played a part in writing all ten originals (there is one cover) with Johnson contributed to seven of them, and Joseph and Stanley also are credited on a couple of selections. Francine Reed adds backing vocals to several selections.

Not familiar with their prior records, one is struck by a certain Dylanesque quality to some of the performances in terms of the song imagery and the strong blue feel of the performances. Gray’s lap steel and Johnson’s slide provide this feel with some keen, whining playing with the rhythm section providing simple emphatic (perhaps a trifle too emphatic) backing. Listened by themselves, the lyrics are intriguing although many of the performances share similar tempos (an exception being the high-stepping
Ain’t No Train. The one cover is “You’ve Got to Move,” and Fred McDowell’s influence on the two guitarists would be evident even without there performance of this tune. Also, the simple driving rhythms and melodies also display this influence as well as the blues of the North Mississippi Hill Country. Take the Back Road, stands out in contrast with a country-rock feel, while the closing Plantation Song, is a folk lament.

Not strictly a blues recording with some folk and country touches, but certainly the blues roots of much of
Hellbound Train, is clearly evident. Several of the songs are clever and interesting although several of the performances did sound similar, so this may be best enjoyed sampled a few songs at time, but clearly worth checking out. This can be obtained from A number of their earlier releases are available on cdbaby, and this may be when officially released in April.

A publicist for this release sent me a review copy. This review originally appeared in the May 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 325)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Josh Charles' New Orleans Inspired Musical Stew

Josh Charles was born in California, raised in Kansas City where he was trained in classical piano before the jazz bug hit him. After High school, Josh Charles moved to New York, where he went to study at the Manhattan School of Music and studied with the legendary Barry Harris. He would play all around the city at any bar with a piano, and discovered Tramps, the legendary New York City club which brought in many giants of classic rhythm and blues, and which brought in many of the great New Orleans artists. Josh honed his craft by listening and learning from the masters of the New Orleans sound and mentored by Crescent City transplant, Dr. John. In August 2005, he was in New Orleans readying to move in as well as record down there. But fate in the form of Hurricane Katrina intervened and he was on one of the last buses out.

In 2009 he recorded a single
Healing Time, which provided a small window into the struggle of what the citizens of New Orleans have felt since Katrina. All the proceeds from the success of Healing Time have gone back into the community in the city he loves toward rebuilding the city. Healing Time is included in his just issued album, Love Work & Money (CC Entertainment/El Records). It has him with members of Dr. John’s Band as well as his own touring band and was recorded in New Orleans as well as New York. With the exception of a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder The Come, Charles wrote or co-wrote the nine originals here.

Listening to this I am tempted to burden Charles by describing him as a blue-eyed Allen Toussaint. I do not mean that Charles is a Toussaint imitator, but his vocals, piano and the general feel of the material is suggestive of the New Orleans legend, in the nature of his songwriting, use of vocal chorus backing and the general groove. Given how Toussaint’s productions shaped much of what we think as New Orleans music over the past five decades the fact that Charles’ soulful efforts here sound like they could have been all recorded in New Orleans shouldn’t be surprising given how he immersed himself in New Orleans grooves in New York. I think Toussaint would be proud of Charles with the opening,
The Waiting Game, a nice piece of funk as Charles sings about waiting for the phone call or a train or a check to clear as well as the title track with its churchy piano opening before delivering a message about how love work and money makes the world go round and what brings one up can bring one down. 

Jimmy Cliff’s classic The Harder They Come, is a nice change of pace with its caribbean groove. Pickin’ Up the Pieces, opens with a classic Crescent City piano riffs, before Charles takes us with a piece of bluesy soul with perhaps more of a tint of Memphis than New Orleans. The afore-mentioned Healing Time, is included and one can understand why this remarkable song about coping with the hard times has been so well received. Other songs such as Stars, and the closing Just a Man, further display Charles strengths as a songwriter of soulful songs and a solid, genuine singer. This is an impressive release and this writer certainly hopes he can see him live.

This review appear originally in the May 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 325). My review copy was provided by a publicist.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

CTI Masterworks Reissues Jim Hall's Concierto

As part of the 40th Anniversary of CTI Records, Sony through its CTI Masterworks imprint has reissued a remastered edition of guitarist Jim Hall’s Concierto. This 1975 release had Hall with a group that included Sir Roland Hanna on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Steve Gadd on drums, Paul Desmond on tenor saxophone and Chet Baker on trumpet. It was a collection of swinging, small group performances mixed with a rendition of Concierto De Aranjuez, the Joaquin Rodrigo composition that was a central part of Miles Davis’ classic collaboration with Gil Evans, Sketches of Spain. Don Sebesky, instead of orchestral arrangements, set it up for the sextet on this date.

The result is a solid album of what would have been considered mainstream jazz at the time. This swinging group played with a clean, cool tone perhaps best exhibited by the dry martini alto of Desmond and Baker’s tart, lyrical style thatcomplemented Hall’s own spare and lyrical style. There is almost a cool, chamber music quality to these performances which is not completely surprising given Hall spent time as a member of Chico Hamilton’s unique quintet that included cello and Buddy Collette or Paul Horn.

Cole Porter’s
You’d Be Nice To Come Home To, opens with Hall and the rhythm before Desmond enters followed by Baker who provides counterpoint during Desmond’s solo before taking a solo that focuses on his middle-range and continues the melodic qualities of this performance. Hall’s Two Blues is a brisk Hall original with Baker soloing before Hall takes the spotlight mixing single note runs with carefully voiced chords while the lovely The Answer Is Yes, was contributed by Jim’s wife Jane on which Hall’s solo is almost a duet with Carter as Hanna adds occasional chord voicings and Gadd lightly propels the groove.

As indicated, the centerpiece of this album is the sextet rendition of
Concierto De Aranjuez. WIth a hint of flamenco in Hall’s guitar, it is followed by Baker, evoking but not imitating Miles, and then Desmond enters with Baker weaving his trumpet around the alto. Obviously the feeling is quite different than provided by the Gil Evans orchestral arrangements with focus no longer simply on the trumpet. The recording is marvelous as with Hanna’s lead, Hall takes the first extended solo backed by the economical and quiet playing by Carter and Baker (along with Hanna’s spare comping) allows one to focus on how he constructs his solo and his deft use of a horn-like tone. Desmond follows with a hint of blues in his dry, songbird tone. Chet Baker’s solo is a bit freer than Miles’ playing on Sketches (which we know today that part of Miles’ solos were actually written parts), and fits the pensive playing of the others. Hanna follows with a solo and then Hall returns. Its captivating listening to the sweet lyricism that this group displays, although the performance does not reach the exhilarating peaks of Davis’ recording or the recent revisiting of it by Harmonie Ensemble New York.

Included on this release are two bonus tracks, the Ellington-Strayhorn
Rock Skippin’ at the Blue Note, and the Hall-Carter collaboration Unfinished Business was not on the original release. The former is a delightful quartet performance whose melody seems linked to Just Squeeze Me, while the latter brings out the lyricism of Hall, Carter and Desmond. Alternate takes, but not necessarily lesser performances, of the first three selections are also included to provide over an hour of music. As stated above, this was wonderfully recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, and while the latest Japanese reissues of this material has been remastered by Creed Taylor and Van Gelder and likely may be better sonically, the Sony reissues still sound wonderful. Concierto is an album of straight-ahead jazz that is substantial, quite lovely sounding and still sounding fresh and contemporary.

My review copy was provided by a publicity firm for the release.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lloyd Jones "Trouble Monkey" Worth Searching Out.

A major presence on the Portland, Oregon blues scene, guitarist and vocalist Lloyd Jones brings a compelling mix of blues and funk to this new release Trouble Monkey (Audioquest). Jones has a husky voice suggestive of Delbert McClinton, and as a guitarist occasionally suggests Guitar Slim with his slashing string popping, particularly on the New Orleans R&B flavored When I Get Back Home.

Jones handles a variety of grooves and textures and his songs and the arrangements evince a variety of influences, from the high stepping funk of the opening Can’t Get You Off My Mind, to the latin funk of I’ll Be Laughing When They Break Your Heart, with punchy horns. Then there’s the rumba high stepping of Fats Domino’s Rosemary, which finds his guitar string-popping leading into some exciting slide work. I Broke My Baby’s Heart sounds like a vintage piece of deep southern soul, with the horns coming off like the Memphis Horns on an Otis Redding album.

Most of his driving band (with a terrific horn section are new to me, although I believe alto saxophonist Warren Rand is a veteran of Robert Cray’s band, and the rhythm section of keyboard wizard Glenn Holstrom, bassist Victor Little and drummer Reinhardt Metz deserve specific praise. Jones wrote most of songs on this album which continue to resonate in one’s head. Even Jones’ cover of a Sleepy John Estes classic, Drop Down Mama, is a fresh and totally original performance. As typical with Audioquest, this is beautifully recorded and packaged. Kudos to Jones, the band and producer Joe Harley for a superb recording.

This review appeared in the December 1995-January 1996 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 207) although this CD may be hard to find as a CD, one can find it as a download. Jones also recorded for Blind Pig a few years later and has a new CD which is mostly solo acoustic, Highway Bound, that I will be reviewing shortly.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Classic New Orleans Sounds on Smithsonian Folkways

Another in Smithsonian-Folkways “Classic” series, the anthology Classic Sounds of New Orleans from Smithsonian Folkways compiles a variety of recordings that were issued by Folkways when it was under the auspices of the late Moses Asch. This compilation by Robert H. Cataliotti mines the recordings of New Orleans music by Frederick Ramsey, Jr., and Samuel Barclay Charters along with other recordings make for a varied grouping of performances, that includes jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, spirituals and other roots music expressions.

The music on this opens and closes with the Eureka Brass Band who kick things off with the classic hymn,
Just a Closer Walk With Thee, and ends with their propulsive rendition of Lord, Lord, Lord. The latter number may be familiar to fans of todays Crescent City Brass Band such as the Tréme Brass Band that have recorded it, but the performances by Eureka harken back to what many would think of the classic traditional New Orleans Jazz sound. Eureka Brass Band was an amazing group and I would recommend either of their releases on the American Music label. Also representing the Brass Band tradition is the late Doc Paulin’s renditions of We Shall Walk Through The Streets of the City, both as a dirge and as a march with a second line rhythm. The melody is the same as Red River Valley, and Doc Paulin’s sons still carry on the family tradition in the Paulin Brothers Band.”

Street music is represented by an anonymous shoeshine boy vocals and hand slapping on
Shine - Hambone, the solo harmonica rendition of Tiger Rag by Freddie L. Small, and Dora Bliggen’s call of a fruit vendor on the streets, Blackberries! It is followed by Red White and Blue Got the Golden Band, by Mardi Gras Indians from assorted tribes. Certainly this 1956 recording is amongst the earliest of this tradition. It is followed by several spirituals/gospel performances including Dark Was the Night by Reverend Lewis Jackson and Charlotte Rucell.

New Orleans Jazz is represented with Kid Punch Miller (with Sam Charters on piano) doing
Bucket’s Got a Hole In it, and an absolutely brilliant drum solo, Spooky Drums #1 by Baby Dodds. Clarinetist Emile Barnes leads an enthusiastic rendition of Milenberg Joys, while The Six and Seventh Eighths String Band of New Orleans are heard on Clarinet Marmalade, which should delight fans of skittle bands. Two celebrated New Orleans guitarists, Snooks Eaglin and Lonnie Johnson, are heard on celebrated New Orleans classics. Eaglin turns the classic High Society Rag, into a brilliant solo guitar showcase while Johnson does a nice Careless Love, recorded in 1967, long after he had left his native city. Billie and De De Pierce, another couple mainstays of the New Orleans scene in the fifties and sixties are heard on a nice blues Lonesome Road, warmly sung by the pianist Billie Pierce. It is followed by Kid Clayton’s Corrine, Corrina, with the famed pianist Sweet Emma Barrett part of his group.

After these performances, another Snooks Eaglin performance, of
Saint James Infirmary, makes the transition to the blues although this recording and other contemporaneous ones of Eaglin gave the mistaken impression that he was a solo street singer when he know he played rhythm and blues and contemporary jazz at the time. In any event Eaglin’s guitar playing is marvelous, even if acoustic. A medley of pianist HJ Boiusseau provides a glimpse into a the period between ragtime and jazz. Like Lonnie Johnson, Champion Jack Dupree left his home city when young, yet the influence of some of the pianists who taught him was always evident in his playing including the second line rhythms in Rattlesnake Boogie. In contrast to Dupree, the great Roosevelt Sykes grew up in Arkansas and Delta and moved to St. Louis, becoming one of the greatest of all blues pianists, but he moved to New Orleans in1962 where he became a fixture of the music scene. His adaptation of Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone, displays a technical facility and sophistication that many celebrated blues pianists would be unable to match.

A nice
Jimmy’s Blues by trumpeter Kid Clayton has some fine clarinet from Albert Burbank, tailgating trombone from Kid Avery and barrelhouse piano from Sweet Emma, followed by another splendid solo performance by Lonnie Johnson, C.C. Rider. Another staple of the traditional New Orleans repertoire, Shake It and Break It, is heard in a performance by Billie Pierce, with Lawrence Tocca, not her husband De De, on trumpet. Sam Charters noted at the time this recording was first issued that it was one of the most exciting recordings done in new Orleans in years.

All in all, this is a splendid compilation of a wide range of New Orleans music. In includes a marvelous booklet with a concise overview of the collection as well as observations on all of the included recordings. It is a terrific introduction to traditional New Orleans music.

Smithsonian Folkways provided an electronic download for my review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eliane Amherd is Here "Now and From Now On"

Swiss born singer-songwriter and guitarist, Eliane Amherd, has established herself amongst the New York jazz, latin and Brazilian music scene. A graduate of the New School’s Jazz Program she has a new self-produced CD Now and From Now On that displays her musical sensibility that extends beyond any specific genre. Backed by an unusual band of Bill Ware’s vibes, Gustavo Amarante on bass, Willard Dyson on drums and Ze Mauricio on percussion, she brings a hip, varied musical performance with her smokey delivery of her free flowing lyrics (with exception of Tom Waits’ “Temptation”). One might suggest as a reference point that Eliane Amherd sounds like a Sheryl Crow with a jazz and world-music sensibility.

Emherd is more than an intriguing singer as she displays some sharp guitar chops on
As If, followed by the afro-beat of Me TeTan Pliji with its very playful rhythms and lyrics (she effectively has overdubbed backing vocals here and elsewhere) “I’d like to swim in the ocean, like to swim in the ocean, like to be in the deep blues sea; but all I have here is a river, all i have is a river, much too wild and too cold is he.” Don’t Give Up On Me has a bluesy flavor, and in addition to her pleading vocal, has some nice guitar. The playful Afro-Caribbean rhythms complement the vocal for the ironic Feel a Little Sorry For Yourself as she sings about the recession special and cocktail hour that one should take full advantage of feel sorry for oneself. The wistful Where Is Home (“do I go east, do i go west, don’t know no more, which way is best”) is followed by the playful vocals and lyrics Let Me Explain, with its bossa rhythms. Wait’s Temptation draws out a sultriness in Emherd’s vocals while her guitar chords help frame Bill Ware’s vibes solo.

Overall, Emherd impresses as a singer and songwriter and the arrangements she has provided her band strengthen the effect of what this listener found to be quite captivating music here. Now and From Now On is wonderfully recorded by Jason Sarubbi and while the 11 performances only last 38 minutes, the performances are small gems. It is available at and Eliane’s website is
I received a review copy from a publicist for this release.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

North Atlantic Blues Festival Has Stellar Line Up

While I will not be attending it, this year’s North Atlantic Blues Festival has among the finest line-ups of blues festivals I have seen. Like the Pennsylvania Blues Festival, the focus of who is booked is on “blues,” not on blues rockers than might be at some over-hyped festival that books a few real deal blues acts. In any event, the 18th edition of the Festival takes place in Rockland, Maine on July 16 and July 17.

Saturday, July 16 the line-up include the soul-blues of Nellie Tiger Travis and then some of the leading names of Chicago blues today. Eddy “the Chief” Clearwater; Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials; Billy Branch & the Sons of the Blues; Magic Slim and the Teardrops and the Brooks Family Reunion with Lonnie, Ronnie and Wayne Baker. I wonder when a non-Chicago based festival had all these acts on the same day. This is a fairly heavyweight day of blues.

Sunday, July 17 has the family band Trampled Under Foot followed by James Armstrong,Tony Lynn Washington, Eric Bibb and Robert Cray. There will be performances by Gina Sicilia & Dave Gross between sets and they have a Saturday Night Pub Crawl that has become a tradition at this festival.
James Armstrong

The Festival is located at Rockland’s Public Landing, so you sit in a City Park with a terrific view of the harbor as your listen to blues from this truly sterling line-up. Paul Benjamin and company may have out-done themselves with this year’s Festival. Particularly to folks from New York up through New England, this is a must see Festival.  

The festivals' website is and their facebook page is

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mance Lipscomb Marvelous Blues and More

The late Mance Lipscomb certainly was an invaluable discovery by Mack McCormick and Chris Strachwitz.. The full title of the Arhoolie reissue, You Got To Reap What You Sow: Texas Songster Volume 2, says it all. Mance Lipscomb wasn’t a blues performer, but rather was a songster who played all sorts of songs for his family and friends. Once he was discovered and started playing concerts, he perhaps skewed his repertoire to the blues, but it was the depth of his repertoire that made him so invaluable.

The 24 songs give a sense of the depth of his repertoire, and include versions of Texas blues themes like Hattie Green; blues recordings like Walter Davis’ Come Back Baby and Memphis Minnie’s Bumble Bee; ballads like Joe Turner Killed a Man, and The Titanic; and popular songs like Long Way to Tipperary and You Rascal You.

Mance was a wonderful guitarist and a warm singer. Reflecting the milieu of the country house parties that he would play for most of his life, his performing style is devoid of gimmicks, simply played with skill and honesty. This is an expanded version of the original album, which was his second release for Arhoolie and includes 13 previously unissued songs, including a new rendition of Tom Moore Blues, a protest blues about a Washington County,Texas landowner.

I had the pleasure seeing Mance Lipscomb perform live once, opening for Big Mama Thornton at the University of Buffalo and his performance was every bit as wonderful as his recordings. His music was not showy, just warmly performed and full of sincerity and heart. This review originally appeared in the April 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 190) although I have made minor stylistic changes. This release is available both a CD and as downloads.