Sunday, June 1, 2008

Back To Louisiana

As previously mentioned, the recent trip to New Orleans included a wallet-crushing visit to the Louisiana Music Factory. The Factory is part of an amazingly vital music scene, all the more so since Katrina drove so many musicians away from the Crescent City. Everything I review here is a new release; hopefully, it provides a hint of the breadth and depth contemporary Louisiana music.

Exit To Mystery Street, Paul Sanchez. Currently No. 1 on the Citizen K. hit parade! A contagious blend of party rockers ("Hoob-a-Joob" is destined to be a New Orleans classic) and ballads of layered intent, Mystery Street is the New Orleans experience writ large: Enjoy life as it is, because it can come to an end at any time. In Sanchez' New Orleans, brass band musicians and Dixieland horns keep the feet tapping from the onset, a Mexican drinking song appears out of nowhere, then a contemplative trumpet and an acoustic guitar engage the emotions. And when he sings with apparent insouciance that "I don't care who knows/I love you from your head to your toes," he's talking about the great city itself. A wonderful CD from beginning to end. Highly recommended.

La Louisiana Sessions, Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars. Think of a zydeco version of Los Lobos. Roddie Romero hasn't reached those exalted heights yet, but the ambition is there in this 2-CD set of trad, rock, blues, and R&B delivered with a Cajun flavor. The bands jumps nimbly and energetically from one tune to the next, unified by Romero's accordion and slide guitar.

If Dreams Come True, Ann Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights. Savoy sets zydeco aside for this engaging set of Parisian bistro jazz. She and her light-fingered quartet breath new life into familiar tunes by Benny Goodman, Django Reinhardt, Rodger and Hart, and Jerom Kern, among others. Bewitching, yes, but hardly bothersome or bewildering: When Savoy sings "Reaching For The Moon," she finds its ephemeral light.

Good Neighbor, John Boutte. One of New Orleans' premier jazz vocalists, Boutte show-stopping performance of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" at the 2006 JazzFest updated the lyrics of the song that has become the unofficial anthem of post-Katrina New Orleans. Good Neighbor comprises covers of Neil Young and Johnny Mercer, plus 11 original songs written by Boutte and Paul Sanchez (who produced the album at the same time he recorded and produced Mystery Street). The originals include the title track, which revives a New Orleans tradition: The jazz booty-call song. Sanchez favors light arrangement supported by Todd Duke's acoustic guitar and Herlin Riley's percussion. And, really, that's all Boutte's beautiful tenor requires.

Cedric Watson, Cedric Watson. Fiddler, accordianist, and vocalist Watson brings a subtle African-American touch to traditional Cajun music. While there's nothing overt, the CD's fifteen original and trad numbers have a bit more swing here, a touch of blues there, and dabs of soul all over. The 23-year old Watson shows terrific talent, so much that you can't help but look forward to his future.

Peace, Love, & Understanding, Big Sam's Funky Nation. Big Sam, the former trombonist for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, leads the Funky Nation through a whirlwind set of brass band jazz-funk fusion. The core group driven by Alvin Ford Jr.'s drumming powers through eight instrumentals featuring excellent solos and ensemble work before guest vocalists like Ivan Neville join them for the closing four rave-ups. These guys must put on an awesome live show, but this will do just fine until I can see them.


New Orleans News Ladder said...

Wow you do get way up in there.

You keep shining the lights in da'Key of E major, Noble Mon.
I hung you onto today's Ladda.

Editilla~New Orleans News Ladder

Renegade Eye said...

My comrades have a monthly ethnic themed dinner/music parties. After I read Foxessa writing about Creole culture, I decided our next party will be Louisiana themed with jumbalaya.

K. said...

Be sure to use a brown roux as the base.

Foxessa said...

No roux for jumbalaya. That's for gumbo.

I made a lot of jumbalya while in NO, chopped mountain ranges of green pepper, celery and onion, the base of NO cooking. I didn't use butter at all though, and I will say that while olive oil is good, jumbalaya made without butter isn't quite the same.

I made it with chicken, sausage AND shrimp. All local, all fresh, and that was what made it fabulous. Along with the local brand of Zatairin rice, which I have been able to buy here in the supermarket.

And you NEED Tabasco sauce, which is a Louisiana product, from Avery Island.

Love, c.