Tag Archives: dr. john

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

9 Jul

Season 2 of the HBO television series Treme just came to a close, and was renewed for a third season.

While one might say that an ongoing theme in Season 1 was immediate recovery and adjustment for the city of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and Season 2 examined issues with violence and corruption a year later, music remained a vibrant focal point throughout.

Far from simply offering an enjoyable soundtrack, Season 2 of Treme shows the overwhelming importance of music in New Orleans on a variety of levels. Keeping with the mission in the first season, Treme continues to use New Orleans musicians as reoccurring characters playing themselves, in venues they might normally be found, as well as great cameo appearances from jazz and folk superstars.

Season 2 featured musical highlights including scenes and performances by NOLA locals and non-locals, including Dr. John, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers

These performances and appearances were not only entertaining, but keep in stride with the attempts of the program to offer a certain element of “real”. Kermit Ruffins is regularly found leading groups in NOLA bars and clubs to packed crowds. Donald Harrison is recruited late in the season to perform on a record designed to mix modern jazz with the sounds of Mardi Gras Indians. As KPLU’s Robin Lloyd pointed out to me, this is very appropriate for Harrison. He is the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square, but has also spent a great deal of time being involved in everything from smooth jazz to hip-hop.

In the Season 2 finale, hope was offered after a tumultuous season, where Jazz Fest takes center stage, and the program closes out with an emotional montage set to the Louis Armstrong recording of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

While the close of Season 2 suggests more optimism than the finale of Season 1 did, several elements of pain and struggle to come for the city of New Orleans in Season 3 are indicated. No doubt that it will be set to the wonderful sounds and music of a city that continues to struggle in recovery.

HBO's "Treme" kept music a centerpiece in Season 2

9 Jul

Season 2 of the HBO television series Treme just came to a close, and was renewed for a third season.

While one might say that an ongoing theme in Season 1 was immediate recovery and adjustment for the city of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and Season 2 examined issues with violence and corruption a year later, music remained a vibrant focal point throughout.

Far from simply offering an enjoyable soundtrack, Season 2 of Treme shows the overwhelming importance of music in New Orleans on a variety of levels. Keeping with the mission in the first season, Treme continues to use New Orleans musicians as reoccurring characters playing themselves, in venues they might normally be found, as well as great cameo appearances from jazz and folk superstars.

Season 2 featured musical highlights including scenes and performances by NOLA locals and non-locals, including Dr. John, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.

Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers

These performances and appearances were not only entertaining, but keep in stride with the attempts of the program to offer a certain element of “real”. Kermit Ruffins is regularly found leading groups in NOLA bars and clubs to packed crowds. Donald Harrison is recruited late in the season to perform on a record designed to mix modern jazz with the sounds of Mardi Gras Indians. As KPLU’s Robin Lloyd pointed out to me, this is very appropriate for Harrison. He is the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group which keeps alive the secret traditions of Congo Square, but has also spent a great deal of time being involved in everything from smooth jazz to hip-hop.

In the Season 2 finale, hope was offered after a tumultuous season, where Jazz Fest takes center stage, and the program closes out with an emotional montage set to the Louis Armstrong recording of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

While the close of Season 2 suggests more optimism than the finale of Season 1 did, several elements of pain and struggle to come for the city of New Orleans in Season 3 are indicated. No doubt that it will be set to the wonderful sounds and music of a city that continues to struggle in recovery.

Dr. John, Tom Waits among Rock Hall of Fame inductees

5 Mar

There are a handful of jazz musicians who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These musicians include Louis Armstrong, Charlie Christian, Nat “King” Cole, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Jelly Roll Morton, Les Paul, and Dinah Washington.

Crossover artists Dr. John and Tom Waits will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next Monday, March 14th.

Bios from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website read:

New Orleans’ own Dr. John has been recording for more than 50 years. He is steeped in the rhythms and traditions of the city, and has spent his career championing its music. As he told New Orleans rhythm & blues historian Jeff Hannusch, “[New Orleans music] is part of whatever I’m about. The importance of it is beyond anything I do.” Born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, he learned piano and guitar as a child. Schooled by Crescent City legends like Walter “Papoose” Nelson, James Booker and Cosimo Matassa, Rebennack began recording in 1957; between 1956-1963, more than 50 of his songs were recorded in New Orleans. In 1965, Rebennack moved to Los Angeles and worked as a session player. Working with Harold Battiste, he created the Dr. John the Night Tripper character, a tribute to New Orleans’ musical and spiritual traditions that meshed perfectly with psychedelia. His first album, Gris-Gris, was a masterpiece, evoking voodoo legends over a funky mix. In the first half of the 1970s, he released a series of albums that mixed New Orleans classics with his own original material, all driven by his remarkable piano playing and great bands, most notably his collaboration with Allen Toussaint and the Meters on “Right Place, Wrong Time,” a smash funk hit. He has produced albums for Professor Longhair and Van Morrison, collaborated with Doc Pomus on a group of songs recorded by B.B. King on There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (1981), and released several acclaimed solo piano records. In recent years he has become a spokesman for New Orleans and its musical history, all the while continuing to record creative, challenging music.

Only one songwriter could be covered by the Ramones (“I Don’t Want to Grow Up”) and the Eagles (“Ol’ ‘55”). Beginning with his first album in 1973, Tom Waits has carved out a unique place in rock and roll.  His music mixes Chicago blues, parlor ballads, beat poetry, pulp-fiction parlance and – when you least expect it – heart-breaking tenderness.  His enormously influential live shows combine elements of German cabaret, vaudeville and roadhouse rock.  After establishing a successful early style as a wry singer-songwriter, Waits went through a dramatic expansion with Swordfishtrombones (1983). Disregarding musical borders and commercial considerations, he set off in wild pursuit of the Muse.  Waits has composed film scores, musical theatre and an operetta. He has co-written with Keith Richards and William Burroughs.  His songs have been covered by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Solomon Burke, Marianne Faithfull, the Neville Brothers, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and the Blind Boys of Alabama. He has recorded with the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, the Replacements and Roy Orbison.   A tribute to his great influence is how many of his songs have been recorded by artists who usually write their own – including Bruce Springsteen (“Jersey Girl”), Tim Buckley (“Martha”), Johnny Cash (“Down There by the Train”), Bob Seger (“16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six”), T-Bone Burnett (“Time”), Tori Amos (“Time”), Steve Earle (“Way Down In the Hole”), Elvis Costello (“Innocent When You Dream”) and Rod Stewart (“Downtown Train”).

Other inductees include Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, and Darlene Love.

Dr. John will be presented by John Legend. Tom Waits will be presented by Neil Young.

Groove Notes Top 10 Jazz CD’s of 2010

2 Jan

People love lists. And Groove Notes isn’t shy about posting them. There were some great albums that came out in the last year, and in no particular order, here are my ten favorites from 2010.

1. Highway Rider by Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch, March 16, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2. Decisive Steps by Tia Fuller (Mack Avenue, March 16, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

3. Jasmine by Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden (ECM Records, May 25th, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

4. Music Redeems by The Marsalis Family (Marsalis Music, August 24, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

5. Tribal by Dr. John (429 Records, August 3, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

6. Straight Ahead by Hadley Caliman (Origin Records, January 19, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

7. Stanley Clarke Band by Stanley Clarke (Heads Up, June 15, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

8. The Cycle of Love by Maurice Brown (Brown Records, April 20, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

9. Groove Alchemy by Stanton Moore (Telarc, April 13, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

10. Whirl by Fred Hersch Trio (Palmetto Records, June 21, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Honorable Mentions:

Providencia by Danilo Perez CLICK HERE TO BUY

Orchestrion by Pat Metheny CLICK HERE TO BUY

Reverse Thread by Regina Carter CLICK HERE TO BUY

Mirror by Charles Lloyd Quartet CLICK HERE TO BUY

Home by Jane Monheit CLICK HERE TO BUY

A Time For Love by Arturo Sandoval CLICK HERE TO BUY

Groove Notes Top 10 Jazz CD's of 2010

2 Jan

People love lists. And Groove Notes isn’t shy about posting them. There were some great albums that came out in the last year, and in no particular order, here are my ten favorites from 2010.

1. Highway Rider by Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch, March 16, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2. Decisive Steps by Tia Fuller (Mack Avenue, March 16, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

3. Jasmine by Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden (ECM Records, May 25th, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

4. Music Redeems by The Marsalis Family (Marsalis Music, August 24, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

5. Tribal by Dr. John (429 Records, August 3, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

6. Straight Ahead by Hadley Caliman (Origin Records, January 19, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

7. Stanley Clarke Band by Stanley Clarke (Heads Up, June 15, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

8. The Cycle of Love by Maurice Brown (Brown Records, April 20, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

9. Groove Alchemy by Stanton Moore (Telarc, April 13, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

10. Whirl by Fred Hersch Trio (Palmetto Records, June 21, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Honorable Mentions:

Providencia by Danilo Perez CLICK HERE TO BUY

Orchestrion by Pat Metheny CLICK HERE TO BUY

Reverse Thread by Regina Carter CLICK HERE TO BUY

Mirror by Charles Lloyd Quartet CLICK HERE TO BUY

Home by Jane Monheit CLICK HERE TO BUY

A Time For Love by Arturo Sandoval CLICK HERE TO BUY

My Interviews from 2010…Two Doctors and Nikki

27 Dec

The latter half of 2010 allowed me the opportunity to interview three very different musicians. I’ve decided to re-post these interviews with some photos.

September 7th I found myself in our performance studio for an interview and live performance from Dr. John.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW AND PERFORMANCE WITH DR. JOHN

A month later I had the opportunity to interview legendary bandleader, and another “doctor”, Doc Severinsen by telephone. Doc was on tour with El Ritmo De La Vida.

Doc Severinsen Interview – 5 1/2 Minute Feature

Doc Severinsen Interview – 28 Minute Full Interview

After interviewing two music legends, I would switch gears a week later and meet a rising star. Teenage jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky joined me for an interview and live performance.

Listen to the Session Here

I hope you enjoyed these interviews, and I’m looking forward to many more in 2011!

An Interview with Dr. John

11 Sep

On Tuesday, September 7th, I had the opportunity to interview the American music icon Dr. John from our Seattle Performance Studio, as well as hear him play a couple of songs. Below is a summary of my interview and the performance, written by KPLU’s Nick Morrison. You will also see photos, and at the end you will find a link to the audio of the performance and interview in its entirely.

Mac ‘Dr. John’ Rebennack has been at the heart of New Orleans funk and R&B since the 1950’s so when he paid a visit to the KPLU/Jazz24 studio for a solo piano/vocal performance, we were sure we’d get a good dose of The Crescent City. We certainly did.

He began by treating us to two songs from his most recent CD, Tribal. The songs, Potnah and Change Of Heart were written by Dr. John and Southwest Louisiana singer/songwriter, Bobby Charles (writer of such Louisiana classics as See You Later Alligator and Walkin’ To New Orleans). In fact, as Dr. John tells interviewer, Kevin Kniestedt, Tribal was initially meant to be a collaboration between Rebennack and Bobby Charles. Unfortunately, Charles passed away in the early stages of the project so Dr. John finished it himself, as a tribute to his old friend.

Dr. John also talked about the ongoing plight of the residents (and refugees) of New Orleans and South Louisiana, five years after Hurricane Katrina and now in the midst of the BP oil spill aftermath.

He concluded by performing one more song: Dorothy, a touching instrumental written for his mother.

By the end of the session it was clear that Dr. John is a man with a mission. Wherever he goes, he takes the musical pleasures and the societal pain of New Orleans with him. He wants us to enjoy the music while never forgetting that his beloved home city is still a long way from being healed.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW AND PERFORMANCE WITH DR. JOHN

Click for past KPLU Studio Sessions

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