Monday, July 7, 2008

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Chris Rose: 60 Second Interview with Christian Scott

What's a perfect night of music in New Orleans?

When you're home, guys are playing all the time. (Troy Andrews) Shorty's playing, Big Sam (Williams) is playing, some the older guys might be coming to town. There's always great music in New Orleans. So, if I had to design a perfect night, it would be one where all of the musicians from New Orleans let go of some of their baggage and bitterness to each other and all that other b.s., and just got together and had a great jam session -- from the Kidd Jordans and the Clyde Kerrs down through Wynton to the high school kids at NOCCA. All the generations together for a big family jam. These guys are the keepers of our culture.

Up close and personal: Wynton Marsalis

“My father played cocktail hour at a hotel when I was in high school. I played in a funk band (as a teenager) that was so loud, you couldn't even hear. I played the circus one time and that was difficult, not because of the circus, but because you never stopped playing! Guys ran away from that gig. I didn't know why, so I said: 'I'll play it.' Man, that was 2½ hours of playing the entire time.”

It may be coincidental, or a simple twist of fate, but Marsalis has played music, seemingly nonstop, since before he could legally perform in most nightclubs.

One of six children of esteemed New Orleans pianist and jazz educator Ellis Marsalis, the trumpeter was not yet 18 when he left the Big Easy for the Big Apple. There, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, a legendary band that had previously featured such trumpet greats as Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw.

hot 8, here now

The Hot 8 Brass Band matters. Everything that is good about New Orleans is embodied in this little band of regular neighborhood guys. They’ve been to hell and back and yet they keep on with this music, this amazing, uplifting, truth-giving music. This is cool jazz, funked to the core and set ablaze, but it’s something much more than that. It’s the rawness of the street shot out through the business end of a tuba. It’s Tabasco spiked with tears and gasoline. It’s love. It’s war. It’s life and God and the devil and everything else in the world that matters and some things that don’t and a few that fall in between and ask me if I give a damn about whatever it is because the reasons, the causes, the rationales, if there are any, can’t possibly matter in this singular moment that puts this whole fucking mess in one simple context, on one single page, down and clear and all right there. These guys are not always in tune. They’re not always sober. They’re not always tight. But they are always, always just right. In the moment. In the pocket. In the heart. My heart. Yours if you’re lucky.

DJ Soul Sister steps up to the big stage at Essence

DJ Soul Sister, aka Melissa Weber, spins old-school soul and hip-hop each week upstairs at Mimi's, a cozy bar in Faubourg Marigny.

Home of the Groove's "Willie West - A True Soul Survivor"

The tag of Soul Survivor may be over-used; but it is well-suited to Willie West, another gifted singer and songwriter from the New Orleans area who has never gotten the breaks he deserved or credit he was due, despite a long and active career in music. The subject of my prior post, the late, great Eldridge Holmes, made some outstanding records with Allen Toussaint, but never could get a career established in the music business. By contrast, West, a contemporary and label-mate of Holmes on Deesu in the mid-1960s, currently has half a century of performing and recording under his belt, and at 66 is going stronger than ever. He has never let undeserved professional disappointments, health setbacks, or relative obscurity to the general public get in the way of his ability and drive to entertain, and still has faith that he can reach a wider audience.

Music Friday: Chris Thomas King

On King's website, you can read more about the home he lost to Katrina, the difficulties he has had trying to rebuild and return to the city, the death of his mother in December of ’05. The man has lived the New Orleans experience these past years. And in true New Orleans tradition, he takes that experience and puts it to music. Here is a contemporary bluesman.

New Orleans Native Son: The Grayhawk Band

For the last 40 years Grayhawk Perkins has been involved in music in New Orleans. Grayhawk has played with acts such as the Neville Brothers and Native American folk music legend, Bill Miller. For the last 17 years he has been involved with the New Orleans Jazz Festival, booking acts, playing shows, and refining the Native American village that you can find at the event every year. Like many great New Orleans musicians that have come before him, Grayhawk's music has been shaped by both his heritage and the collective culture of the Crescent City.

Thank New Orleans, Widespread Panic for Big Sam's Funky Nation

"My mom, she brought me a Dirty Dozen Brass Band CD called 'Ears to the Wall.' It's not even in stores anymore. That was my first jazz CD ever. I just loved it immediately. I always told myself I wanted to be in that band or in a band something like it, maybe one of my own." About three years after first listening to the Dirty Dozen CD, Williams, an 18-year-old kid who had just graduated from New Orleans' acclaimed Center for Creative Arts, was on the phone being invited to join the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on tour.

see also: 'Big Sam' Williams brings his Funky Nation to Essence

see also: Williams plays the trombone - for real

The Heart of Saturday Night

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