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Jazz Fest: Thursday, May 2

Recommendations from Count Basin


Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove
Eclectic, adventuresome and influential New Orleans sousaphonist Kirk Joseph was drafted into the Dirty Dozen Brass Band by his older brother at the age of 13. In 2004, Joseph left the famous group to form his own Backyard Groove, whose sax, trumpet, guitar and drums compositions revolve distinctly around Joseph's heavy, air-pushing "sousafunk" style.

• 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Acura Stage

Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys
With his signature jeans and jean jacket, cowboy hat and toothpick in his mouth, singer and accordion player Jeffery Broussard continues to spread the gospel of the "zydeco nouveau" sound he pioneered with his Opelousas band Zydeco Force. Leading his Creole Cowboys on traditional button accordion, piano-key accordion and fiddle, Broussard meshes R&B with contemporary zydeco dance music.
  Like many zydeco greats, Broussard started as a child, playing drums in his father's band, Delton Broussard & the Lawtell Playboys. He has gone on to tour the world, performing across Africa, Russia and South America. As it was his father's dream for his children to continue the Creole music tradition, Broussard makes sure to mix traditional songs into his albums as well as his rousing live sets.

• 12:20 p.m.-1:10 p.m.
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage

Kidd Jordan & the Improvisational Arts Quintet
At 78 years old, saxophonist Edward "Kidd" Jordan remains the first name in New Orleans adventurous contemporary jazz. Jordan rose through the ranks in the 1950s playing on recordings by more conventional musicians like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and New Orleans' own Professor Longhair. A graduate of Alvin Batiste's Southern University in Baton Rouge, Jordan went on to teach at Southern, mentoring students including Branford and Wynton Marsalis. Jordan started the New Orleans Saxophone Ensemble with fellow local saxophonists Alvin Fielder, Clyde Kerr Jr. and London Branch. The group later changed its name to the Improvisational Arts Quintet but still plays wild, challenging compositions that, like all of Jordan's music, is wholly improvised. Those who like their jazz smooth should take heed of Jordan's words to NPR: "If the majority likes it, then I'm supposed to go the other way."

• 1:25 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
Zatarain's/WWOZ Jazz Tent

Hot 8 Brass Band
The Hot 8 Brass Band made its world debut backing Master P in the classic video for his old-school hit "Hoody Hoo." But whether powering a celebratory or mournful second line parade, filtering the latest hip-hop tracks through a brass filter, or adding Latin flavors to dance group Basement Jaxx's "Bingo Bango," the world-touring Hot 8 Brass Band stays in touch with its street parade roots. The group has lost three members to gun violence, which is addressed in its song, "Can't Hide From the Truth."

• 1:25 p.m.-2:25 p.m.
Congo Square Stage

Dee-1 plays on the Congo Square stage. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Dee-1 plays on the Congo Square stage.
This former Baton Rouge middle school teacher left the classroom but has continued teaching through his prolific lyrics and music. Dee-1 performs in both clubs and schools and is the spokesman for the New Orleans-based Hip-Hop for Hope organization. Dee-1 also has helped raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness and education. Dee-1 first garnered wider exposure when the song "Jay, 50, and Weezy" from his 2009 debut album David and Goliath won limited airplay on MTV. The song takes the rapper's idols to task for promoting violence and not doing enough to uplift the neighborhoods and housing project communities that spawned and supported them. Dee-1 has become a ubiquitous presence at hip-hop shows, opening for artists including Ice Cube, OutKast's Big Boi and Three 6 Mafia. On stage and in the studio, Dee-1 joined forces with live musicians like the New Era Brass Band, the Rebirth Brass Band, and trumpeter Shamarr Allen with whom Dee-1 recorded the rock 'n' brass football anthem, "Bring 'Em to the Dome." More recently Dee-1 paired up with New Orleans legendary producer and former Cash Money beatmaker Mannie Fresh for the 2012 mixtape The Focus Tape and its hit single, "The One That Got Away." And before we even had the chance to fully digest The Focus Tape, Dee-1 dropped a 2013 mix titled, I Hope They Hear Me (Vol. 2).

• 2:45 p.m.-3:35 p.m.
Congo Square Stage

McDonogh 35 High School Gospel Choir
Veronica Downs-Dorsey has taught choir at her alma mater McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School since replacing her own music teacher there 23 years ago. She helped McDonogh 35 start the first high school choir in New Orleans and become the first school choir to perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After Hurricane Katrina, it was the only school choir to perform at the 2006 Jazz Fest.
  The week before Jazz Fest starts, Downs-Dorsey spends the morning leading choir practice. The singers will be backed by a live band at the festival, but they practice their first song, "He's Alive," a capella. Downs-Dorsey prefers traditional gospel but the students' set includes contemporary stylings as well. Between songs, the kids slouch in their chairs like any group of bored teens, but when Downs-Dorsey starts the next song's piano intro, her students spring up in resounding recognition. "You gotta be loud because people gonna be screamin'," Downs-Dorsey says. The students sing louder and louder as their confidence grows, until the school's security officer is drawn to the door, stomping and clapping.
  Downs-Dorsey's daughter Veronique — a former valedictorian at McDonogh 35 and current trumpet player for the Original Pinettes Brass Band — serves as the school's assistant band director and teaches drums. Today she is helping her mother's students practice stage moves. "The fest is real drama, real expression," her mom says to the kids. "It's all about getting the crowd involved, that's how you get invited back."
  This will be the fourth festival performance for 12th grader Anissa Montgomery, a student from the 9th Ward whose mother also was a student of Downs-Dorsey. Montgomery sings in three choirs outside of school and says the best part of Jazz Fest is "getting to preach to a big, new audience." Senior and second-year choir member Oschelle James from Uptown appreciates performing at the Fair Grounds.
  "You never know what someone in the audience is going through that day or who you are going to touch with this music," James says.

2:40 p.m.-3:25 p.m.
Gospel Tent

Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs play on the Congo Square stage. - PHOTO BY SCOTT SALTZMAN
  • Photo by Scott Saltzman
  • Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs play on the Congo Square stage.
Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs
New Orleans trumpet player Shamarr Allen made himself a star as the frontman for Rebirth Brass Band and went on to work as a sideman for Willie Nelson and recorded with Lenny Kravitz and Harry Connick Jr. While many of his New Orleans brass peers focus on improvisation, Allen populates his albums and live sets with backing band the Underdawgs, playing original songs that combine hip-hop, rock, pop and funk in a sound he calls "hip-rock." Allen is just as well-loved in New Orleans for the free music school for children he leads with sponsor SilenceIsViolence. Since 2007, Allen and company have taught New Orleans kids fundamental techniques on trumpet, drums, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, guitar and various stringed instruments, as well as basic principles of music theory. Allen also teaches youngsters about the music business. Allen titled his latest album 504-799-8147, in case you'd like to call him and find out more about his upcoming Jazz Fest performance.

• 4 p.m.-5 p.m.
Congo Square Stage

Patti Smith
Though she sounds little like her New York peers Blondie and the Ramones, poet and artist Patti Smith is known as "the godmother of punk." In 1975, her group's debut Horses simultaneously defined and redefined punk. Its passionate and poetic vocal-driven influence touched everyone from R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe to Siouxsie and the Banshees to Sammy Hagar, who recorded the Horses track "Free Money." Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth famously summed up punk with a Smith reference: "The strongest and most original force in the music's history had been a woman."
  As a New Jersey teenager Smith explored religion, alternating between Catholicism, Jehovah's Witnesses and Tibetan Buddhism before finally shifting her devotion to songwriter Bob Dylan and French poet Arthur Rimbaud.
  In 1979, Smith married Fred "Sonic" Smith, guitarist of Detroit's MC5, and moved to Michigan where the couple had two kids. In 1994, Fred Smith died, followed by Patti's brother, and then her former love, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith's 2010 memoir detailing her relationship with Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, won a National Book Award.
  Smith finally moved back to New York, and though she still releases music, she has concentrated just as much on photography and multimedia art, with several well-received solo exhibitions. In 2007, Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and 2009 saw the release of Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a documentary filmed over an 11-year period by fashion photographer Steven Sebring. Her Jazz Fest appearance is part of a larger tour for her 2012 solo album Banga.

• 5:40 p.m.-7 p.m.
Gentilly Stage

Lil' Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers
If you plan to be a famous zydeco artist, you better start early. At the age of 5, Nathan Williams Jr. began playing rubboard in his father's band Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. His father guided him as he moved to drums and then accordion. At 14, Williams — by then also dubbed Lil' Nathan — released his first album, Zydeco Ballin'. Written for him primarily by his father, Zydeco Ballin' took a more modern approach, spanning styles from traditional zydeco waltzes accompanied by French lyrics to more upbeat "nouveau zydeco" tunes.
  Williams went on to major in jazz studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. With his band, the Zydeco Big Timers, he has garnered praise from The New York Times and won various zydeco awards.
  Though he is part of the tradition that nurtured famous zydeco families such as the Carriers, Chavises, Cheniers and Delafoses, Lil Nathan also works with rappers like New Orleans' Juvenile, with whom he recorded "Go Getta." Williams' latest album is 2012's Big Timer Nation: Go Hard or Go Home.

• 6 p.m.-7 p.m.
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage

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