Here are my top 10 New Orleans music releases. All of these have been played on my show on KAOS in 2017 (For more new releases played on my show this year, go to my end of year roundup.) You can listen to the show featuring these releases while you read about them.
A Beautiful World – Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield hit a home run with this home town love note featuring over 50 New Orleans musicians with originals and covers that totally capture Ruffins’ style and vibe. Mayfield, as producer and master trumpeter, does a great job of letting the relaxed, hip style of Ruffins shine through.
Hot Like Fire – Mark Mullins and Craig Klein are solidly in their comfort zone with their latest Bonerama release, their first through Basin Street Records. The album’s strength is the talent of the musicians, especially Matt Perrine, who contributed three songs as well as his sousaphone expertise and Bert Cotten, whose guitar gives this brass heavy release a rocking feel.
Live at Horace’s – Taylor Smith may regret putting his favorite neighborhood (Central City) bar on the international map but the cozy Horace’s apparently was just the venue for him to showcase his energetic style of New Orleans R&B. Guitar Slim, Earl King, Elmore James and Blind Lemon Jefferson all get the Roamin’ Jasmine treatment in this set.
So It Is – This is the second release by Preservation Hall Jazz Band with all original tunes. While Preservation Hall, with its musician’s collective, is known for keeping the tradition alive, the recording/touring band is keeping the tradition alive by providing fresh music that connects New Orleans to its Afro-Cuban roots. It’s totally hip and hard to stop playing.
With You in Mind – Stanton Moore was still grieving the unexpected death of Allen Toussaint, the central architect of New Orleans R&B and Funk in the 60’s and beyond, when he went into the studio with David Torkanowsky and James Singleton. With the help of Cyril Neville, Nicholas Payton, Trombone Shorty and Donald Harrison Jr, the trio captured Toussaint’s joy for life as well as ability to touch your heart.
On the Spot – The Hot 8 Brass Band does brass band music right. Given my fondness for this band and its sound, I would be hard pressed to not have them on my list. But after 20 years, this band is not resting on its laurels. The band covers Stevie Wonder and the classic St. James Infirmary in its usual ear-opening style but it also offers new songs that speak to this band’s amazing ability to keep on plugging against adversity.
Sketch – Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes should be getting a helluva a lot more attention, particularly after this release. While the band can play just about any style, the members seem most entertaining with their original funk rock sound. They have a reputation as a party band, but its members are professionals who know how to play and create unique, entertaining music.
Make America Great Again – This late 2016 release is Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra’s formula for what truly makes our country great. Yes, he starts with the Star Spangled Banner and lays down some solid swinging big band sounds through 14 tracks but there’s sharp commentary spliced in between the jazzy sounds. This is a great release for a deejay of New Orleans music show. It has a bit everything with top-flight craftsmanship.
The Flying Musical Circus – Noah Adams is the brainchild, singer and songwriter of this frenetically entertaining group, the Dirty Bourbon River Show. “New Orleans Big Brass Circus Rock Music” is the elevator pitch for the music but even if that doesn’t appeal to you, give this album a listen. The music is deep and its elephant free
Creatures – If Sweet Crude makes it big and it certainly has the potential, you might be able to point to this album as when they figured it all out. This is a uniquely Louisiana-band with strong roots in Arcadia, but its clearly a pop band, that sings in French and English, with the opportunity to grow a wider audience. Get on the ground floor with Creatures.