The Cosimo Matassa Story (Proper Records Properbox 129). Cosimo Matassa produced New Orleans musicians of all stripes for nearly forty years. These four CDs (for $26!) concentrate on the Fifties, which to go by the music here was the golden era for his studios. While the nascent sides by Little Richard and Fats Domino are as great as you'd expect, it's the regional acts like the Sha-Weez, Shirley and Lee, James Wayne, and Little Bo that bore beneath the surface of America's deepest and widest musical tradition.
They Call Us Wild, The Wild Magnolias (Sunnyside SSC 3068). One of New Orleans most well-known Mardi Gras Indian tribes, the Wild Magnolias teamed up in the mid-Seventies with Snooks Eaglin and other Crescent City blues and soul musicians to deliver two terrific funk-dance records. These capture the Mardi Gras spirit at its most joyous, and were deservedly rereleased last year. And the set includes a 68-page digital book explaining the New Orleans Indian tradition in words and pictures. Great music, great jams, great fun. Listen to it and try to keep your feet still. It ain't gonna happen.
Lonely Lonely Nights, James "The Sleeping Giant" Winfield (Southland SCD-38). The 64-year old Winfield has been singing and playing off and on around New Orleans for decades while earning a living doing auto body and fender work. An obscure '60's single aside, he hasn't recorded until now, although hearing the results you have to wonder why. This is old school New Orleans R&B shepherded along by The Sleeping Giant's gray satin voice and relaxed manner. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, it took him two years to record these ten songs. There's a lifetime of experience packed in here, experience that says that despite it all, he can't complain. Great picture of his granddaughters, too.
On The Verge, Adonis Rose (Criss Cross Jazz 1294)
Love Dance, Victor Goines (Criss Cross Jazz 1291)
The kind of jazz you listen to on that glorious spring day when you first open all the windows in the house. Drummer Rose heads a sextet that romps and prowls its way through eight original tunes. And while trumpeter extraordinaire Nicholas Payton lends his name and considerable chops to the proceedings, Rose's Berklee School colleague Aaron Goldberg and Warren Wolf on piano and vibes are the revelations here. Meanwhile, Juilliard Director of Jazz Studies Goines leads a quartet through a combination of standards and originals. Goines is terrific on the sax -- the CD is in some ways a homage to Sonny Rollins -- but it's his clarinet that gives Love Dance that old New Orleans vibe.
Note: Also displaced by Katrina, Adonis Rose relocated to Ft. Worth and formed the Ft. Worth Jazz Orchestra, a nonprofit organization "committed to the preservation, teaching, and performance of America's art form, Jazz." Besides performing big jazz band classics, the orchestra plays original compositions, provides a camp for young musicians, and compiles the oral history of local jazz musicians.
Citizen K. Read: A Storm of Swords, George R. R. Martin