Treme in Seattle – A Concert Review

5 Sep

“A Night in Treme” Featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, Donald Harrison, and Glen David Andrews at Jazz Alley in Seattle, September 1-4, 2011.

The musical New Orleans neighborhood of Treme showed up to Jazz Alley last week, featuring the likes of the Rebirth Brass Band, saxophonist Donald Harrison, and trombonist Glen David Andrews.

I attended the opening night sold-out first set at Jazz Alley, and right away it was apparent that the musicians had every intention of turning the club into a Pacific Northwest sliver of New Orleans.

I wasn’t sure how the show would be divided up for the performers ahead of time, but as it turned out the Rebirth Brass Band would be the featured performers throughout, sprinkled with guest appearances by Harrison and Andrews.

The energy that Rebirth brought was immediate and throughout. The seven member band, joking around and wearing street clothes, opened with the Fats Domino Tune I’m Walkin, which took about three seconds to get people out of their seats dancing. Rebirth followed that with three songs very different from each other – Grazin’ in the Grass, the Professor Longhair tune Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and a song they called Mexican Special.

I always find myself concerned when the initial band brings such an intense overload of energy, the special guests who join them mid-concert wont be able to keep that energy up. This was not the case.

Donald Harrison joined Rebirth after four songs, showing exactly why he is Big Chief Donald Harrison. While he went on stage with his sax, he spent the majority of the time on vocals, starting with an emotional and intense Mardi Gras Indian chant before the band joined in with song. When he did play his sax, we were all reminded why he is both a New Orleans musician and a national recording artist, blowing the roof off of the alley with exploding improvisation.

Harrison was followed by Glen David Andrews, who is not only a good New Orleans trombone player, but at 6 foot 4 inches tall, a massive stage presence and performer. Starting his performance from his dressing room, Andrews performed Down in the Treme (written by John Boutte, the theme song for the HBO television show Treme), everywhere from on stage, up the stairway, on the second floor, on tables, and everywhere in between.

With a show featuring as much talent and excitement as this, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that Glen David Andrews stole the show, but the endless line of people wanting to meet him following the show might suggest that he did.

Seattle needed to have this neighborhood of New Orleans brought to it. It wouldn’t have been right if waiters and waitresses had open walkways to deliver food. Instead the staff fought through the sold out crowd on the first floor, all of which was up on their feet dancing and waving their napkins, needing little encouragement to do so. Seattle not only got a slice of true New Orleans culture, but were given an opportunity to get up, dance, and smile. No doubt many audience members left wondering how soon they could make their next trip to NOLA for more dancing and smiling.

A Tour of Treme with Donald Harrison and Glen David Andrews

A Tour of Treme with Donald Harrison and Glen David Andrews

3 Sep
A Tour of Treme with Donald Harrison and Glen David Andrews

Glen David Andrews (left) and Donald Harrison stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios for an interview and performance on September 1. Justin Steyer / KPLU

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW AND PERFORMANCE

I welcomed Donald Harrison (alto saxophone, congas) and Glen David Andrews (trombone) to our studios on Thursday, both of whom were born in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, cut their musical teeth on the music of Treme, and can be seen in the HBO television series, Treme.

Currently they’re also part of an ever-changing line-up of New Orleans musicians touring with a show called A Night In Treme which is bringing the music of Treme’s Congo Square to cities all over America – including Seattle’s Jazz Alley through Sunday night.

After warming up with Just A Close Walk With Thee, the conversation got underway with Glen talking about what the Treme TV series means to him as a New Orleanian.

He and Donald also discussed the history of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, the history of the Treme neighborhood and gave a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the television series.

All this, combined with two more fine musical performances (a nice improvisation, and the NOLA classic “When The Saints Go Marching In”) makes for a delightful tour of a neighborhood that continues to contribute its unique richness to American culture – a neighborhood called Treme.

HBO’s “Treme” kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music opens in New Orleans

27 Aug

Back in January 2010, I took a cab ride from my New Orleans hotel early that morning to the Musicians’ Village in the Upper 9th Ward. The Musicians’ Village is a community conceived by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., to provide adequate housing for artists and musicians of the city who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Once the cab driver stopped telling me that it would be much “safer” for him to take me on a tour to see all of Brad Pitt’s houses rather than drop me off in the middle of what he called a “rough” neighborhood, he let me out and I was able to see this wonderful community.

Photo by Kevin Kniestedt

Of course it ended up being too early in the morning for me to catch any musicians out and about in the Village (as it should be…what decent working New Orleans musician is up and about at 9:30 in the morning?).

I was, however, able to briefly talk to two men who were surveying a lot at the end of the block. This was the site that would end up hosting the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.

Photo by Kevin Kniestedt

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music opened on Thursday, hosting local residents, fellow musicians, supporters, friends and family for its grand opening, including Governor Jindal of Louisiana and Mayor Landrieu of New Orleans, and actress, Renee Zellweger.


There was also a performance from Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., who played a major role in developing the Center as well as the Musicians’ Village (in partnership with Habitat for Humanity).

The Center is not only a performance hall, but will allow opportunity for local students and musicians to take advantage of recording space, classes, computers, and community rooms.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal put it best in his address to the crowd at the dedication:

“The dedication of the Ellis Marsalis Center is about more than money and bricks and mortar. It is another sign of the rebirth of a great city – a city that will be a beacon of entertainment and inspiration for our children and generations to come. Through wars, hurricanes, and floods, one thing has remained unchanged – our people are strong and like none other.”

An Interview with Grace Kelly

23 Aug

This morning I had the opportunity to speak with 19-year-old jazz saxophonist Grace Kelly by phone. Grace has won numerous awards and released several albums already, as well as being a very talented vocalist, pianist and composer.

Grace will be coming to Seattle for the first time, performing at Tula’s for two nights as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival in November.

In this audio blog, Grace discusses how she went from being a clarinet player at 10 years old to having her first album recorded at age 12, being mentored and collaborating with the likes of Lee Konitz, Harry Connick Jr., Cedar Walton, and Wynton Marsalis, and being treated like a rock star in Montreal.

She also discusses her work and relationship with Phil Woods and being given his legendary hat, giving advice to young fans, and some surprises she has learned along the way.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW

“I still get butterflies when meeting the people who inspire me, and I think that is the way it is going to be for the rest of my life.”

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (781-790)

21 Aug

Here is another 10 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with this week, and in no particular order, albums 771 through 780.

1. The Survivor’s Suite – Keith Jarrett (ECM, 1976) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2. A New Perspective – Donald Byrd (EMI Music Distribution, 1963) CLICK HERE TO BUY

3. Liberation Music Orchestra – Charlie Haden (Impulse!, 1969) CLICK HERE TO BUY

4. Change of the Century – Ornette Coleman (Atlantic, 1959) CLICK HERE TO BUY

5. Two Blocks From the Edge – Michael Brecker (Impulse!, 1997) CLICK HERE TO BUY

6. Sonny Rollins Plus 4 – Sonny Rollins (Original Jazz Classics, 1964) CLICK HERE TO BUY

7. The Second John Handy Album – John Handy (Koch Jazz, 1967) CLICK HERE TO BUY

8. The Kicker – Joe Henderson (Milestone/OJC, 1967) CLICK HERE TO BUY

9. Morning Fun – Zoot Sims/Bob Brookmeyer (Black Lyon, 1956) CLICK HERE TO BUY

10. Blossom Dearie – Blossom Dearie (Verve, 1956-1959) CLICK HERE TO BUY

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (771-780)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (761-770)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (751-760)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – The First 750

An interview with Anton Schwartz

18 Aug

Photo by Wade Lagrone

I had the opportunity this week to speak by phone with tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz.

Anton recently moved to the Seattle area. I had the chance to ask him about what brought him to the Puget Sound, and how he has networked himself into the local jazz scene so far.

We also talked about the differences between a jazz scene like Seattle versus the scene in New York, his recent project with vocalist Ed Reed, being in a high school band with Larry Goldings and Peter Bernstein, and leaving the world of artificial intelligence.

Click here to listen to this audio blog.

“(Artificial intelligence) just seemed like the funnest thing to do at the time…but it just wasn’t really the life I wanted to lead. When I decided to quit that, I didn’t actually know that I was going to do music instead. That just kind of became apparent over the course of time.”

www.antonjazz.com

A Love Letter to New Orleans – An interview with Irvin Mayfield

Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton coming to a theater near you

12 Aug

Music superstars Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis got together last April for a concert at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. The concert featured songs hand-picked by Eric Clapton, then arranged by Marsalis, and included highlights such as a guest appearance by Taj Mahal.

While the concert will be released on September 13th on a CD/DVD combo pack (Warner Brothers, CLICK HERE TO BUY), there is an even better opportunity to hear this show for those of us who weren’t able to make the cross country trip to see the show live.

On September 7th, the concert will be shown at over 550 movie theaters at 7:30 PM local time. This is a one-night only opportunity, and while there is no substitute for being at a live concert, top quality movie theater video and audio is certain to be a second best (especially when you compare it to my car stereo system).

In the Puget Sound area, the show is playing at the following theaters:

Anacortes Cinemas – Anacortes                                                   

Auburn 17 Theaters – Auburn                                               

Century Theatres Federal Way 16 – Federal Way

Columbia Mall 8 – Kennewick                                

Alderwood 7 Theaters – Lynnwood

Bella Bottega 11 Cinema – Redmond                     

AMC Southcenter 16 with IMAX – Seattle                 

AMC Oak Tree 6 – Seattle                                           

Thornton Place with IMAX – Seattle

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