Khari Allen Lee
and Gregory Agid:
The Music of
Alvin Batiste and
On New Orleans' modern jazz scene, Uptown Jazz Orchestra colleagues Khari Allen Lee (saxophone) and Gregory Agid (clarinet) share a knack for pushing creative boundaries while espousing a healthy respect for tradition. They join forces to honor two New Orleans jazz luminaries with similar penchants for mixing progressive creativity with a deep reverence for the city's early jazz pioneers. Like arranger and composer Harold Battiste and clarinetist Alvin Batiste before them, Lee and Agid are avid music educators, helping to shape the sound of New Orleans' next generation of players.
12:20 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.
WWOZ Jazz Tent
Declared one of the most exciting bands to come out of Acadiana following the 2010 release En Couleurs, this Cajun-meets-indie rock act recently made a substantial shift in personnel and overall sound. Singer, songwriter and fiddler Kelli Jones-Savoy, whose voice and writing style owe more to Appalchian than Acadian heritage, now shares vocal duties with accordionist Chris Stafford. She also contributes strong original compositions to Two Universes, the band's first album in five years. New influences aside, Feufollet remains a hub of sorts in Lafayette's vibrant music scene: the band is managed by Lisa Stafford, mother of members Michael and Chris Stafford, while Jones-Savoy frequently collaborates on side gigs with her husband, Valcour Records head and fiddler/guitar star Joel Savoy.
12:25 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage
After launching his career in the late 1950s with regular, popular gigs at Uptown's famous Dew Drop Inn, Deacon John Moore became a staple session player for music producer Cosimo Matassa, recording with Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey and Ernie K-Doe. Meanwhile, Moore's busy band the Ivories provided the live music for much of New Orleans' social scene. The high-energy guitarist, singer and tambourine player keeps a somewhat lower profile around town these days, making his annual Fest appearance a perennial highlight.
12:35 p.m.–1:35 p.m.
Big Chief Juan & Jockimo's Groove
The leader of the Golden Comanche Mardi Gras Indians, Big Chief Juan Pardo boasts a versatile singing range, a soulful voice and a hip taste in backing musicians (his 2015 album Spirit Food featured guitarist Billy Iuso, 101 Drummer A.J. Mallory and pianist Tom Worrell, among others). For the uninitiated, Pardo also does a great job of explaining the various elements of Mardi Gras Indian history and culture that are at work in his music.
1:45 p.m.– 2:35 p.m.
Jazz & Heritage Stage
1:55 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.
Art Neville, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter Jr., and later Cyril Neville, created the foundation of some of New Orleans' most influential music. As the house band in Allen Toussaint's studio, The Meters' grooves anchored recordings by Lee Dorsey and Dr. John. When the group took off on its own, the R&B and funk albums it cut in the 1960s and '70s became cornerstones of the Crescent City's soundscape. A few years after 1975's Fire on the Bayou, however, The Meters drifted apart, officially calling it quits as a group by 1980. A semi-reunion came nearly 10 years later when most of the band (minus Modeliste and Nocentelli) joined forces as the Funky Meters. But it wasn't until Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis orchestrated a set featuring the original lineup at the 2006 festival that the group's early chemistry came back into play. That spark returned a few years ago when the original Meters joined Dr. John and Allen Toussaint to revisit the Bonnaroo Music + Arts festival's namesake recording, Desitively Bonnaroo. Trombone Shorty captured another flash of lightning in a bottle when he corralled them to play "Be My Lady" on Say That to Say This. As Jazz Fest sets go, it doesn't get much more exciting than a performance by the original Meters.
1:55 p.m.– 3:10 p.m.
Iconic soul acts on the Congo Square Stage have long provided major festival highlights, with performers picking up on and often reacting to the crowd's appreciative and laid-back vibe. This year, the O'Jays — whose Gamble & Huff-produced hits helped engineer the Philly soul movement of the 1970s with songs such as "Back Stabbers," "Love Train" and "Use Ta Be My Girl" — seem poised to serve up the kind of feel-good symbiosis for Congo Square audiences. (Is there a more apt Jazz Fest anthem than "I Love Music"?) While a number of O'Jays members have come and gone over the years, childhood friends Eddie Levert and Walter Williams remain, along with Eric Grant.
3:45 p.m.– 4:45 p.m.
Congo Square Stage
Lenny Kravitz and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Mining the annals of rock, funk and soul history for inspiration, Lenny Kravitz developed a distinct and powerful sound in the early 1990s. At the time, it was a pair of recordings — Mama Said and Are You Gonna Go My Way — that solidified his star status. In 2015, younger fans may know Kravitz as much for his acting (Precious, The Hunger Games) as for his music, but he's back on the road this year, touring in support of Strut, a sultry exercise in funk-rock with plenty of edge. In 2005, Kravitz hired a young, trombone-playing prodigy from New Orleans named Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, whose background in jazz and brass band music added a new dynamic to Kravitz's group. Meanwhile, Andrews studied his boss and mentor's work closely, developing new ideas for his own music and performance style from what he learned under Kravitz's wing. Ten years after the pair's working relationship kicked off, Kravitz warms up the Acura Stage for Andrews and his band Orleans Avenue. One can only wonder whether either musician will make a guest appearance during the other's set.
3:50 p.m.– 5:15 p.m.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
5:45 p.m.– 7 p.m.
Blind Boys of Alabama
For more than seven decades, this prolific group of mostly blind gospel singers has kept the fire alive for a repertoire of traditional church harmonies. The group enjoyed a new wave of recognition in the 1990s, when big-name acts in pop, country, rock and other genres tapped into its soulful sound and raw power for collaborations. (2014's Talkin' Christmas with blues legend Taj Mahal is the latest joint effort.) The Blind Boys also have explored connections between their music and that of the Crescent City, releas- ing Down In New Orleans in 2008 with the help of guests including Allen Toussaint, keyboardist David Torkanow- sky, drummer Shannon Powell, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Hot 8 Brass Band. Jimmy Carter, the act's only remaining original founding member, still helms the group.
3:55 p.m.– 4:55 p.m.
One of the world's most influential guitarists, Buddy Guy heaves feeling into his performances, translating dynamic crests and troughs, explosions of feedback and raw virtuosity into palpable angst, love, pain and joy. At 78, his gravelly voice remains strong, even if he seems to share frontman duties with his capable band members with increasing frequency. Despite his long-standing connection to Chicago's blues scene, Guy hails from Lettsworth, Louisiana, a connection he frequently plays up during shows in New Orleans.
5:40 p.m.– 7 p.m.
A rising star in mainstream country music, singer, songwriter and guitarist Kacey Musgraves has more in common with her idol Alison Krauss than with many of the regulars topping country charts today. Musgraves plays guitar and mandolin with the same spunky energy that fuels her often-controversial lyrics, and seems hell-bent on forging her own path to success. "Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that's what you're into," the 26-year-old Nashville Star alum sings on 2013's Same Trailer Different Park. "When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint — or don't. Just follow your arrow."
5:45 p.m.– 7 p.m.
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage
Kermit Ruffins' Tribute to Louis Armstrong
At 4:20 p.m. (wink, wink), avowed reefer fan Kermit Ruffins celebrates the music of another New Orleans-born, gravel-voiced, self-proclaimed "viper," Louis Armstrong. Ruffins will be fresh off a Satchmo tribute performed with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.
4:20 p.m.– 5:20 p.m.
On 2014's Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch, Dr. John, aka Mac Rebennack, and his then-newly updated band filtered a wide-ranging selection of Louis Armstrong's music through Dr. John's unique lens. A key part of that filter is the impressive roster of special guests on the album, many of whom also will perform at the Fair Grounds on the second weekend of the festival. Be on the lookout for musical assists from Terence Blanchard, Blind Boys of Alabama, Nicholas Payton or Dirty Dozen Brass Band horn men Roger Lewis and Gregory Davis.
6 p.m.– 7 p.m.