2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The great improvisational jazz quartet, Astral Project, played a strong set of original and traditional tunes...including the title track of Voodoo Bop. Bassist, James Singleton, strummed his upright with great intensity, and his face contorted like a Picassso piece of abstract art. This was another overwhelming crowd-pleaser.
Stanley Clarke's thunderous electric bass-playing was so heavy, it could sink an oil derrick. His piano accompanist, Hiromi, shook, rattled, and rolled like a jazz version of Jerry Lee Lewis...her animated image was startling and joyous.
Producer Quint Davis introduced guitar virtuoso, Jeff Beck, as the greatest guitarist in rock and roll history. The stringman lived up to the hype, performing with precise power on a varied set, including "Birth of the Blues," "Over The Rainbow," "A Day In The Life," And "I Want To Take You Higher." His band was extraordinary, and the energy of this set will go down as one of jazzfests finest performances. Beck was handed a bouquet of flowers at the end of the set, and he unselfishly threw them to his audience.
Brian Blade played drums emphatically and proficiently with his own band, as well as with Wayne Shorter...two stunning sets. Also accompanied by John Patitucci and Danilo Perez, Shorter turned the jazz tent into a sanctuary of sacred sounds. On "Joyryde," played with extreme cohesiveness.
There were numerous other highlights by a diverse assortment of musicians, including The Zion Harmonizers, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers, and B.B. King. King told the crowd he asked Saint Peter for a few more hours...at the age of eighty-four, his voice is still strong, and his playing on Lucille, his signature guitar, was terrific. In the Economy tent, ninety-eight year old trumpeter, Lionel Ferbos, performed like a man one-third his age. There was also a beautiful tribute to vocalist, Juanita Brooks, handled elegantly by Leah Chase, Betty Shirley, and Germaine Bazzle...the crowd was dazzled by a nice rendition of the fitting "There Will Never Be Another You."
Davell Crawford (son of Sugar Boy), hit all the right keys on his version of Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927, which brought tears to the eyes of many audience members, who are rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. An exciting finish to the show included Dr. John and Jon Cleary joining Davell on one piano...it was thirty fingers of rhythm and blues heaven.
Finally, John Boutte, whose singing is reminiscent of Sam Cooke, added depth and breadth to "Basin Street Blues" and "Good Neighbor." He told the crowd that he was asked to play that evening at Preservation Hall, and the show started around midnight...his response was "Sure, I like early gigs." This proves that New Orleans is a 24-hour music city. So, hop on board that Streetcar named Desire next year, and you will be delighted, invigorated, and fulfilled by a festival replete with great music. And if you don't already know how to do it, you will certainly learn the art of eating crawfish...it is a fine mess!