all up in ya.

That's what they say about New Orleans -- it gets all up in ya. And it does, in ways that can't be anticipated. I'm back here to conduct a few final interviews, pack up, and return the keys to this wonderful apartment I've been renting in the Marigny, just a block or so from the strip of Frenchmen Street that has become an essential music thoroughfare -- hosting everything from national acts and local icons at the jazz club/restaurant Snug Harbor to no-cover gigs by John Boutté and low-cover gigs by the likes of Bob French and Walter "Wolfman" Washington at a bar called dba to weekly gigs-cum-swing dance parties at the Spotted Cat to the music of VaVaVoom or the Jazz Vipers (both worthy bands) to Saturday-night late sets with that magisterial swamp-blues warbler Coco Robicheaux at the Apple Barrel.

But more importantly, this spot has offered a great window on New Orleans here-and-now: the education and housing organizers hard at work at Cafe Rose Nicaud, alongside music producer Dan Storper holding meetings, nearby my good friends Barbara and Frank and that irrepressible poet, Chuck, taking on all matters political and social, not to mention all that coffee; the civic organizing, great music (Hot 8 Brass Band, Glen David Andrews, and others) at the Sound Café (and yet more coffee); the steady flow of valuable information from Sylvester Francis's Backstreet Cultural Museum, informing me of countless second-line parades and cultural events; the magnificent air of pride and humility pervading the jazz masses at St. Augustine Church; and the mysterious, romantic, ever-changing yet never-changing, and still smelly (new sanitation service notwithstanding) French Quarter. All of that was just a short walk away, and I haven't even mentioned the Mother-in-Law Lounge!

Lucky for me that the stories I'm tracking continue apace, so I couldn't think of staying away even if I wanted to (I don't).

May 31, 2007 1:10 PM | | Comments (0)


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Evan Christopher Django à la Créole (Lejazzetal) 

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a California native, moved to New Orleans in 1994. In his frequent duets with Tom McDermott, and as a standout member of trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, his erudite and personalized approach to traditional jazz commands attention.

Dr. Michael White Blue Crescent (Basin Street) 

Long before the floods that devastated his city, clarinetist Michael White wrestled with the challenge of preserving New Orleans traditional jazz without embalming it. He sought to write tunes built on time-honored local forms that spoke to the here-and-now. But Dr. White struggled to compose anything at all during the past three years--until late 2007, when original music began pouring forth.

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Red Earth: A Malian Journey (DDB Records/Emarcy/Universal) Despite her place in the top rank of American jazz vocalists and her crossover success, Dee Dee Bridgewater has often felt displaced. "I'm always trying to fit in somewhere," she once told me. This new disc, which finds Ms. Bridgewater and her band in collaboration with a cast of Malian musicians and singers, is no further pose:
David Murray Black Saint Quartet featuring Cassandra Wilson Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 
Long among the strongest, most adventurous reedmen in jazz,
Joe Zawinul Brown Street (Heads Up) 
The list of great Viennese composers must include Zawinul--same for the honor roll of jazz innovators.
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