Sunday, December 13, 2009

NolaFunk Lagniappe

Allen Toussaint throws a star-studded soiree in honor of Dave Bartholomew

In Allen Toussaint’s view, Dave Bartholomew deserves much more.

In the 1950s and ’60s, Bartholomew produced and co-wrote most of Fats Domino’s hits, making theirs the most fruitful creative partnership in New Orleans music history. Bartholomew largely shaped the New Orleans big beat, part of the alchemy that rendered rock ’n’ roll out of rhythm & blues.

Toussaint modeled his own fertile career as a songwriter and producer on Bartholomew’s. But despite Bartholomew’s induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Toussaint believes he has not received his due.

allen toussaint dave bartholomew.jpg

Dr. JOHN - Goin' Back to New Orleans 1992

Dr.JOHN - Goin' Back to New Orleans 1992
Recorded at Ultrasonic Studios, New Orleans, Louisiana.

MarchFourth Marching Band

artist photo
They might not have 76 trombones but Portland, Oregon's MarchFourth Marching Band generate a hullabaloo that'd make The Music Man skip with joy. With a 12-piece horn line, battery powered electric bass, and a 10 strong percussion core, M4 lustily engages big band tradition, happily swirling New Orleans jazz with Brazilian batucada, Italian exuberance, Eastern European folk, and dance floor fury. Like some great stomping brass-covered mastodon, they literally march fourth, rarely respecting stage boundaries and playing on fire trucks, ferries and more. Their latest, Rise Up (released October 13 on MarchFourth Music), is hearty spirituals for those no church can contain. Individuality lies at the core of this DIY unit, whose members sport unique outfits reflective of their diverse "real" world backgrounds as lawyers, stonemasons, metal workers, etc. Born on a Fat Tuesday, MarchFourth is a Fellini-esque block party for your ears, a ragtag circus hopping with sly, rabblerousing energy. Listen!

Garage A Trois creates instrumental avant-pop

Formed about seven years after Galactic, Garage A Trois made its stage debut in 2000. Following a few shows with the original lineup, the trio format got shelved after percussionist Dillon accepted an invitation to sit in.

“We loved having the vibes and tabla and the different percussion that Mike does,” Moore said. “It added a lot to the band and now, especially, it’s become its own type of thing.”

The Prehistory of New Orleans: Treasures from the Hogan

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This program tells the story of how jazz emerged in the context of all the other African American musics that proliferated in late 19th and early 20th century New Orleans: blues, ragtime, Mardi Gras Indian music, vaudeville and minstrelsy, spiritual church music, and more. With our guides Bruce Boyd Raeburn and Lynn Abbott, we'll comb through a vast world of interviews, recorded music, photographs, ephemera, and curatorial knowledge at one of the great American music collections, the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University.

A photo-feature to accompany the Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep episode
"The Prehistory of New Orleans Music: Treasures from the Hogan Jazz Archive"
Photos and captions supplied by Lynn Abbott, Assistant Curator, Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University.

New Orleans Gets Wired: David Simon Turns His Sights on the Big Easy

The chronological series will explore life in New Orleans starting three months after Katrina devastated the city. If HBO orders more seasons, they’ll pick up a year after the first left off. Much like Simon’s previous shows, Treme is an exploration into American urban dystopia—but he hopes to one-up his earlier work while celebrating New Orleans’ virtues with the fervor of a high-stepping brass-band parade.

Treme is named after, but not based in, the city’s most historically significant and musically influential neighborhood (pronounced “truh-MAY”), home to the legendary Congo Square and the Rebirth Brass Brand, among others. Through the eyes of the people that live within its signature milieu of parades, jazz funerals, brass bands, Mardi Gras Indian tribes, bars and restaurants, the show will trace the city’s collective efforts to get back on its feet. “You’re going to watch the city being rebuilt, or not being rebuilt, year by year,” Simon says. “The whole thing is thematic to what New Orleans is, to what it represents in the American psyche. It’s an affirmation of why cities matter.”

Newman mines Big Easy music for 'Frog'

New Orleans in the early part of the 20th century - the setting of Disney's animated "The Princess and the Frog" - is territory that composer Randy Newman has trod before.

"I've been dredging those 30 months I spent in New Orleans for all I could in my life," he quips, referring to the summers of his youth. Songs on Newman's "Good Old Boys" and "Land of Dreams" albums feature the Big Easy as a backdrop, and Newman has long expressed admiration for New Orleans-born artists Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino.

So when producer John Lasseter asked Newman to compose seven songs and the score for "The Princess and the Frog," Newman didn't have to think twice. (After all, Newman's Oscar is for one of Lasseter's Pixar films, "Monsters, Inc." and six of his other 16 nominations are for Pixar songs or scores.)

Kermit Ruffins - Have A Crazy Cool Christmas

Basin Street jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins is celebrating the yuletide season with his November 10th release of Have A Crazy Cool Christmas featuring Christmas favorites such as "Silent Night", "Winter Wonderland" and several originals. With a style and sophistication that exemplifies New Orleans, Ruffins album will undoubtedly put you in a wondrous holiday spirit.

Kermit Ruffins
Fresh off the success of Livin’ a Treme´ Life, Kermit Ruffins is ready to add a little Bourbon Street jazz to the upcoming holiday season. Produced by Grammy Winner Tracey Freeman, Have A Crazy Cool Christmas is Kermit Ruffins’ bold foray into Christmas music. The album runs the gamut from yuletide classics like “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” to Kermit’s own rollicking originals like “A Saints Christmas” and “Crazy Cool Christmas.” Kermit is joined once again by former bandmates from the Rebirth Brass Band, as well as fellow Basin Street Records recording artist Irvin Mayfield and New Orleans hotshot trombonist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews.

Evan Christopher: New Orleans music without the nostalgia

MP: You’re called “the Ambassador of the Clarinet.” What does that mean to you?

EC: It depends on who’s calling me that. ... Anytime you choose to advocate for a music that is tied to a specific culture, and you take that music other places, you have a responsibility to represent the culture through the music. I think that’s something ambassadors do. There’s a shortage of musicians doing that, in my opinion, especially on my instrument.

I’m benefiting from the fact that the clarinet was a very prominent instrument in early jazz. We’ve got hotels down here with murals of clarinets six stories high. In a way, it’s symbolic of New Orleans music, even more than

see also: Bebopified: Evan Christopher at the Dakota, 10/25/09: Concert review

Remembering the Riverboat President music club

It has been almost 25 years since the Riverboat President left New Orleans. The boat did weekend dance and concert cruises here from the end of World War II until the mid-1980s. Capt. Clarke “Doc” Hawley, who earned his New Orleans harbor license on the President in the mid 1960s, remembers that a band called the Crawford-Ferguson Night Owls played back then.

I’m thinking about the Prez – we always called it the Prez — because Mari Landy recently moved back to town after 20 years. She was one of the bow bartenders, along with Denise Berthiaume, who now owns LeMieux Galleries on Julia Street. They were also 20-somethings back then. A few weeks ago we had dinner on Frenchmen Street. Mari said that when the economy in Portland petered out, she and her husband found the lure of New Orleans too great to resist.


The Revivalists

A brigade as diverse as the music they produce, these five Tulane and Loyola grads make up local band The Revivalists. Zach Feinberg (guitar) and Rob Ingraham (sax) both graduated from Tulane last spring. Dave Shaw (guitar/vocals), George Grekas (bass) and Andrew Campanelli (drums) studied at Loyola. Ed Williams, another Tulane grad, is not officially in the band but accompanies them on pedal steel occasionally. The members aren’t originally from New Orleans, but they now call the city home and draw inspiration from what they say is the “best live music city in the country, hands down.” They learn from the city’s jazz sounds and adapt them into their own styles.

New Orleans street performer “Grandpa” Elliott first artist signed to 'Playing for Change Records'

Grandpa Elliott Small, singing on the streets of New Orleans since he was a six year old, can capture a crowd with a single note. His mellow baritone makes the sounds of a busy New Orleans street fall away with its warm sincerity and while the blues may inform his lyrical harmonica playing, he has his own unique sound. Sugar Sweet, produced by Playing For Change founder Mark Johnson and Reggie McBride, was recorded in New Orleans with the Playing For Change Band. Grandpa Elliott has been singing with the PFC Band for the past year and they have developed an uncanny rapport. Their enthusiasm and ability to lay down sturdy, elastic grooves is evident throughout the album, adding sympathetic backing to Elliott’s soulful vocals and sinuous harmonica.

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