New Orleans Style

Charlie B. Dahan By

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As the snow falls outside the windows at The Vault , there is one thing on our minds: New Orleans. In a matter of a few weeks, two great events occur, Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (aka JazzFest). With these two events on the horizon, new musical product begins to hit the shelves aimed at one of two groups of people; the first being those lucky enough to visit the Big Easy and want to bring home a souvenir of some of the great music they heard and second, like me, those that can't make it down this year and need a musical reminder as we attempt not to burn our roux. We here at The Vault have some preview and reviews of some Louisiana flavored product that will satisfy both camps as well as those just looking for some great music to put in their stereos.

Attention record labels! Please email me your reissue schedules so I can include them in future lists.

From Putumayo

Kermit Ruffins Putumayo Presents. This is the first time all of Ruffins' best recordings have been compiled into one source, and what a great source it is. Culminated from his work at Justice (all of which are out of print) and his current home at Basin Street, this great ambassador of contemporary New Orleans Jazz sounds fantastic. The album kicks off with a bombastic version of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and ends ten tracks later with a stellar live recording of "Do the Fat Tuesday." This recording serves as a great introduction to an artist who should be better known outside of the New Orleans city limits. (According to the press materials from Putumayo, it appears that Ruffins will be touring the US this year, which if true, should be a must get ticket on your concert calendar). Release date: January 25th.

Various Artists Putumayo Presents New Orleans. This collection is a follow-up to the best selling Putumayo collection 'Louisiana Gumbo' and 'Zydeco and Cajun.' While this collection's banner lies in the city of New Orleans, it leans more toward the genre of jazz from various eras. Represented here are tracks by Louis Armstrong, Preservation Hall, Dr, John, Dr. Michael White, Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton and a few others. What the Vault loves about this collection is that it's focused on the best music not the usual 'best of' model. That makes this collection one of the most musically pleasing and unique New Orleans collections in recent memory. In addition, the liner notes, written by musicologist, Baty Landis, appear in English, French and Spanish. And while you are playing this CD in your kitchen, there is a Paul Prudhomme recipe for Seafood Gumbo. Release Date: January 25th.

From Shout! Factory

The Funky Meters Live From The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Beausoleil Live From The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Both of these Michael Murphy DVD's capture two of Louisiana's greatest and original artists playing in peak form at the world's greatest gathering of musicians, fans and food.

The Funky Meters epitomize everything that is great about music from New Orleans; they play deep in the pocket, improvise great solos, incorporate all styles of music into one groovy gumbo and they capture your spirit and make everyone happy. The set features some of The Meters all-time classics including 'Cissy Strut' and "Look-Ka Py Py."

Beausoleil, the greatest Cajun group since the Balfa Brothers, are both highly engaging and entertaining. The group's music centers around the rich tradition of music from the Southwest Louisiana region, but the ensemble successfully update and incorporate other styles without 'robbing' the overall authenticity. They too entice all those who see and hear them to dance and enjoy themselves. This performance features twelve songs including "Reel De Dennis McGee," "Eunice Two-Step" and our favorite "La Terre de Mon Grandpere."

The cinematography of these two DVD's are so great that I swear I can smell the Crawfish Monica and Cuban Sandwiches in the festival infield. Release Date: January 25th.

Various Artists Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans. As you know, The Vault chose this release as the boxset of the year from 2004. This showcases the varied genres, eras and artists that hail from New Orleans in an engaging and entertaining fashion. (See review ) Out now.

Buckwheat Zydeco 100% Fortified Zydeco. This reissue from the godfather of Zydeco contains Buck's homogenization of Zydeco, soul, R&B, Cajun and funk. Highlighting this ten track collection is "I Need Your Lovin'" and "Somebody Stole My Slide". Release Date: May 1st.

From Sanctuary Publishing

Stephen Foehr Waking Up in New Orleans: A Musical Tour of the Big Easy. This book guides it readers with the help of native musicians throughout New Orleans like a traditional travel guide. More of an insiders' / music lovers' tilt than you traditional AAA or Fodder's. Release Date: April 1st.

From Mardi Gras Records

Louis Armstrong Ultimate Collection. Just as good as any other Louis Armstrong retrospective. Check the track list to make sure you don't already have the majority of these titles.

Rebirth Brass Band The Main Event: Live at the Maple Leaf. Do you want to know you are in the Big Easy; well the sounds of a brass band will verify your location. What better brass band to do this than the Rebirth. Here the krewe perform live at one of the great all-night venues, The Maple Leaf. This 1999 release gets another shot at joining your record collection and you won't be sorry if you do—you are sure to whoop and holler like the crowd in attendance that night. Release Date: January 11th.

Other Releases Worth You Attention

Release Date: January 25th.

New Birth Brass Band New Birth Family (Valley)
Sonny Landreth Grant Street (Sugar Hill)

Release Date: February 8th.

Clifton Chenier Louisiana Blues and Zydeco (Arhoolie). This 1965 collection of great and historical recordings receive their first stereo mix from the undisputed "King of Zydeco."

Please go to our Upcoming Release Center at All About Jazz to see all the releases that are out and those that are on their way.

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