"The Crescent City" is New Orleans' nickname primarily for one reason: its shape. Starting in the French Quarter, the city's bounds expanded along the curve of the Mississippi River, giving the city a shape that is essentially that of a toenail. This is mentioned only because this expansion didn't stop there. Indeed, groups like the Jambalaya Brass Band are perfect examples of just how far-reaching the cultural influence of New Orleans remains. They look like a legitimate New Orleans brass band, and more importantly they sound like one, but don't be fooled; these guys aren't from the "Big Easy," they're from the "Big Apple."
The band, led by tenor saxophonist Ric Frank, sports a hefty load of fun-loving funk on What You Lookin' At, their debut recording. Not that these guys are amateurs by any means. Originally created in 1998 for a centennial celebration of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, the band started out playing covers by like- minded New Orleans brass bands including the Dirty Dozen, Rebirth and New Birth. It seems they learned well, because Jambalaya could stand side-by-side with most any New Orleans brass band in terms of sheer exuberance and energy. The album is a party from start to finish.
Things kick off with the aptly titled "Voodoo Queen" (dedicated to Marie Laveau, "the ultimate New Orleans voodoo queen"), a romp of a track complete with slinking tuba line, eerie, elongated trumpet lines and intersecting sax bumps and screams. The sound is at once tight, full of call-and-response and simultaneous theme statements, and loose and elastic. While the tuba holds down the fort, the percussion relaxes and gets a little busier, paving the way towards an increasingly energetic solo by alto saxophonist Joe Hrbek.
Three covers are present on the albumtwo by friends the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and one by Booker T. and the MGsbut you could hardly tell given the strength of Frank's originals. The Dirty Dozen's "Blackbird Special" is perhaps the strongest of these, if only due to the inherent strength of the track itself, but Jambalaya brings the same raw energy to it as they do to all of the tracks. In fact, much of the group's strongest playing is present on the originals, where they seem more comfortable and thus more willing to really stretch out.
With its shouted intro, Latin-tinged theme and persistently heavy tuba work, the title track is one that makes a solid attempt at bringing what must be a great live show into the home. Indeed, much of the album exhibits that same unpretentious vibe, and the group surely seems to want nothing more than for its listeners to have a blast. Well they need not be disappointed, because with their debut recording they've done it.
Track Listing: Voodoo Queen; Jambalaya Brass; Alligator Ball; Hip Hug-Her; Blackbird
Special; Salsa 2nd Line; Do It Fluid; Bayou Mama; What You Lookin'
At?; On the Funky Side.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.