Jazz Fest: Snarky Puppy, Stevie Wonder, Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Joe Lovano, more

Yes, as expected, another juggernaut of musical talent is slated for this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

I’ve attended this mammoth and amazing musical gathering umpteen times (although, oddly, not since 2010), and I still get excited by the quality, variety, and sheer quantity of the music presented at Jazz Fest.

Yes, I could do without some of the overtly commercial pop/rock (Nick Jonas? Seriously?) and rap headliners, but there’s enough jazz, blues, funk, R&B, brass band, zydeco, gospel, folk, world beat, and generally rootsy music to whet the appetite of any music lover.

Great to see the mighty, mighty Snarky Puppy on the bill again, along with some big-name acts I’ve caught at previous editions of Jazz Fest, including Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

And some great bands and artists I’ve seen elsewhere (some of whom also have played at Jazz Fest) including the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, Neil Young, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, and loads of New Orleans favorites, from Dr. John to the Iguanas.

Then there are several world-class jazz heavy hitters, including the Herbie Hancock-Wayne Shorter Duo (wow!); Jack DeJohnette with Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison; Gregory Porter; Arturo Sandoval; Joe Lovano Us 5; and Heads of State Featuring Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Al Foster, and George Mraz

jazz fest 2016

(This year’s Jazz Fest poster features the Marsalis family in what looks like a double-decker shotgun home)

And, of course, several top-shelf jazzers living in NOLA or with NOLA roots: Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective, Irvin Mayfield and the NOJO, Nicholas Payton, Astral Project, Jason Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, and Donald Harrison, among others.

Who would I be keen to see at Jazz Fest, if I were able to get there this year? Well, here’s the rundown, my top picks, day by day. Modern or traditional jazz or jazz-rooted acts (except brass bands) are in bold.

Friday, April 22: Steely Dan, Gov’t Mule, The Subdudes, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Buckwheat Zydeco, Donald Harrison Jr., Geri Allen, Christian Scott, Jason Marsalis, The Music of Stevie Wonder featuring Brian Blade.

Saturday, April 23: Van Morrison, Pearl Jam, Boz Skaggs, Galactic, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Anders Osborne, John Hammond, DeJohnette-Coltrane-Garrison, Leo Nocentelli (of the Meters), Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton featuring Henry Butler, Butch Thompson, and Dr. Michael White, Tab Benoit, Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter Wolfman Washington and Russell Batiste, Jr.

Sunday, April 24: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter Duo, Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, Taj Mahal & the Trio, Henry Butler & Jambalaya, Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective, BeauSoleil, Little Freddie King Blues Band, Herlin Riley Quintet, The Iguanas,

Thursday, April 28: Tedeschi Trucks Band & Friends, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Snarky Puppy, Gary Clark, Jr., Cyril Neville & Swamp Funk, Corey Harris Band, George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners, Savoy Family Cajun Band, Marlon Jordan Plays the Music of Miles, Trane, and Bird, Spencer Bohren & the Whippersnappers, Tuba Skinny, Bill Summers & Jazalsa

Friday, April 29: Paul Simon, My Morning Jacket, Irma Thomas, Elvin Bishop, Los Lobos, Bonerama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, John Boutte, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Terrance Simien, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Joe Lovano Us Five, Nicholas Payton & Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, Astral Project, C.J. Chenier, Raw Oyster Cult, and Tom McDermott & Friends.

Saturday, April 30: Stevie Wonder, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Gregory Porter, Rebirth Brass Band, Arturo Sandoval, Kermit Ruffins’ Tribute to Louis Armstrong, Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Roy Rogers & the Delta Rhythm Kings, Cyril Neville’s Royal Southern Brotherhood, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, and the James Rivers Movement.

Sunday, May 1: Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk with Art Neville, Punch Brothers, B.B. King Blues Band, Allen Toussaint Band, Ellis Marsalis, Davell Crawford, The Gospel Soul of Irma Thomas, Walter Wolfman Washington, Marcia Ball, Heads of State Featuring Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Al Foster, and George Mraz, Rockin’ Dopsie & the Zydeco Twisters, The Mashup featuring Ike Stubblefield, Terence Higgins and Grant Green, Jr., Trumpet Mafia

I should add that, as usual, some of the most amazing shows during Jazz Fest week are held in the evenings, at various clubs and concert halls around New Orleans. Offbeat is the best place to go for all the music listings.

And Swagland, operated by a guy who has attended Jazz Fest for two decades consecutively, remains the essential online guide to “doing” the festival, with loads of practical tips on lodging, logistics, food, and general tips about NOLA.

Headed to Jazz Fest? Here are a few more resources:

Gambit, a major weekly, annually puts out a detailed guide to Jazz Fest acts.

My Spilt Milk is Alex Rawls‘ informative and opinionated blog/site on all things NOLA music (and culture). “Jazz Fest is Re-Reeling in the Years” is the headline on his piece announcing this year’s lineup.

The Times-Picayune, a once thriving daily now largely gutted, is worth checking out, although that paper’s music writers, Keith Spera and Alison Fensterstock, have taken their talents and a deep knowledge of NOLA music, to The New Orleans Advocate, so expect better informed fest coverage there.

And Louisiana Music Factory, an indie record store, remains THE place to go to pick up audio souvenirs of your trip. It’s  jam packed with recordings by New Orleans and Louisiana artists (as well as other musicians, of course). And the in-store performances during Jazz Fest week are great.









Tampa Jazz (& More) Calendar: Snarky Puppy Leads a Parade of Great Tampa Bay Area Shows

The great, artistically and physically expansive jazz/funk/fusion band Snarky Puppy, with blue-chip funky jammers The Motet, leads a parade of great jazz (& more) shows slated to play the Tampa Bay area in coming weeks and months.

Snarky Puppy, touring in support of last year’s “We Like It Here,” plays Monday night (doors at 7:30) at the State Theater in St. Petersburg.

Also noteworthy, and headed our way:

Friday, Jan. 9 — Marcia Ball with Lipbone ReddingSkipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 10 — Denise Moore And Then Some — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 11 — Valerie Gillespie Quintet with John DePaola: Tribute to Cannonball and Nat Adderley — (Tampa Jazz Club concert) HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City, 3 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 13 — Lettuce — State Theatre, St. Petersburg, doors at 7 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 16 — Voice of the Wetlands Allstars: Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Waylon Thibodeaux, Johnny Vidacovich, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with Galbraith Group — Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 17 — Sunshine Blues & Music Festival: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, Grace Potter, Dickey Betts & Great Southern, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo), Rebirth Brass Band, Matt Schofield, Sean Chambers — Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg

Tuesday, Jan. 20 — Greensky Bluegrass with The Last Bison — State Theatre, St. Petersburg, doors at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 20 — Eliana Blanchard & Bryan Hughes with Helios Jazz Orchestra — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 22 — Jazz Pianist Stan Hunter: A Celebration (with Patrick Bettison, LaRue Nickelson, Alejandro Arenas, and Joe Bencomo — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31 — Galactic with Monophonic — State Theatre, St. Petersburg, doors at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6 — Eric Lindell with Anson Funderburgh — Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7 — Jonny Lang — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 14 — Whitney James’ Jazz Valentine (with Jeremy Powell, LaRue Nickelson, Alejandro Arenas and Mark Feinman — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 15 — George Porter, Jr. with Walter Wolfman Washington — Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 5 p.m.

Feb. 25 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: James Varnado Jazz/Funk Band – ARTpool courtyard, 7:30 p..m.

Feb. 26 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Shawn Brown Trio – Palladium Theater, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 27 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: The Claudia Quintet – SPC Music Center, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 28 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Kevin Mahogany & Helios Jazz Orchestra – SPC Music Center, 7:30 p.m.

March 1 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Post-Festival Jazz Jam – Manhattan Casino, 6 p.m.

March 1 — Dave Stryker — (Tampa Jazz Club concert) HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City, 3 p.m.




Neville Brothers: Mardi Gras Mambo Tour

cpas_neville_brothers_11Still deeply funky after all these years, the Neville Brothers are now traveling around the U.S. on their “Mardi Gras Mambo” tour, a double-bill with Dr. John’s band.

Here’s the link to my Nevilles story, as published in the St. Petersburg Times. I spoke with saxophonist Charles Neville.

And below is the story:

Quint Davis, longtime producer and director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, often calls the Neville Brothers “the heart and soul of New Orleans.”

Keyboardist Art “Poppa Funk”, saxophonist Charles, singer Aaron and percussionist Cyril indeed are often treated as their hometown’s official musical ambassadors. They regularly bring their infectious mix of New Orleans R&B, funk, jazz and African and Caribbean sounds, and socially conscious messages to festivals and concert halls around the world.

But the Nevilles, playing the “Mardi Gras Mambo” tour on a double bill with Dr. John, represent just one variety of the Crescent City’s musical gumbo, Charles said. The concert trek comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Saturday.

“People ask, ‘Is what you’re doing New Orleans music?’ ” he said by telephone last week. “Well, New Orleans music is not just us. Fats Domino is New Orleans music. Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) is New Orleans music, and Harry Connick, and the Marsalis family, and Dr. John. When you listen to the brass bands – that’s New Orleans music. New Orleans music covers a broad spectrum of styles and genres.”

The Nevilles, together and separately, have played New Orleans rhythms and melodies and harmonies for more than five decades, beginning in 1954 when oldest sibling Art put together the Hawketts. That band’s “Mardi Gras Mambo” became a huge hometown hit.

Later, Art formed monstrously funky quartet the Meters, which eventually included Cyril, and Aaron in 1966 scored a national hit with gorgeous soul ballad “Tell It Like It Is.” The Nevilles’ first notable appearance together on record was with Mardi Gras Indians, on the classic Wild Tchoupitoulas in 1976, and the next year they teamed for the debut Neville Brothers album. Their most recent label-affiliated CD, Walkin’ in the Shadow of Life, was released in 2004.

Which Neville Brothers albums are among the band’s best? Charles’ names Yellow Moon, the popular 1989 album helmed by revered producer Daniel Lanois, and Live on Planet Earth, released in 1994.

“Lanois was able to, in the studio, capture the spirit and the feeling of the music, and capture what we do and what we mean with the music,” he said. “What we do — the spirit of New Orleans is in our music. It’s the spirit involved in those rhythms. Those rhythms are the ones handed down (from) voodoo.”

The Nevilles play tonight in Charlotte, N.C., and the final stop on their current round of tour dates is May 3, their traditional second-Sunday set closing out Jazz Fest (the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival).

2-25 Charlotte, NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center More Info
2-26 Columbus, GA Rivercenter For the Performing More Info
2-28 Sarasota, FL Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall More Info
3-01 Tallahassee, FL The Moon More Info
3-02 Naples, FL Philharmonic Center For the Arts More Info
3-03 West Palm Beach, FL Kravis Center for the Performing Arts More Info
3-13 Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas Hilton Theater More Info
3-14 Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas Hilton Theater More Info
5-03 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival M