WWOZ Jazz Tent
12:15 p.m.-1:05 p.m.
Putting more than a dozen trumpet players onstage at once sounds gimmicky. Onstage, under the direction of Ashlin Parker, trumpeter for the Grammy-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), it's anything but. What began as a practice forum for Parker and his NOJO peers has evolved into a showcase for the gut-rattling wall of horns and creative arrangements of hip-hop classics, jazz standards and everything in between. The fluctuating lineup has featured stars such as Nicholas Payton and young students of more established trumpeters who perform with the band regularly. The real standout here, however, is a group dynamic that's greater than the sum of its parts.
Sona Jobarteh and Band
Cultural Pavilion Stage
12:35 p.m.-1:35 p.m.
2:50 p.m.-3:50 p.m.
Though born in London, Sona Jobarteh carries on the kora-playing tradition of her family, which is rooted in Gambia and Mali. The kora is a 21-string cross between a harp and a guitar with a long neck stemming from a large gourd. Among West Africa's Mandinka ethnic group, five griot families claim professional kora playing as a tradition passed from father to son. Sona is the first woman from such a family to take up the tradition, and she and her brother Tunde Jegede have established connections between the U.K. and Gambia to advance their interpretations of the traditional music and Afropop. Sona also plays guitar and sings and her band often backs her on acoustic guitar and drums. Sona's 2011 solo album Fasiya, also featured her playing bass, ngoni and flute.
La Banda Blanca
Congo Square Stage
12:40 p.m.-1:45 p.m.
Cultural Exchange Pavilion
4:45 p.m.-5:45 p.m.
With their booty-shaking dancers and driving punta rhythms, Banda Blanca has become one of the best-known Honduran bands in modern music. Hailing from San Pedro Sula, where the group performs regularly, the high-energy seven-piece earned a combination of fame and notoriety with the chart-topping success of its 1991 recording of "Sopa de Caracol" ("Conch Soup"). The song originally was written in the Garifuna language and recorded by the so-called godfather of punta rock, Hernan "Chico" Ramos, a Belizean singer who later sued Banda Blanca for violation of copyright. But the band's version of the song brought new and more widespread recognition to the punta genre and Honduran music.
Jerron 'Blind Boy' Paxton
1:25 p.m.-2:25 p.m.
Jerron Paxton's grandparents moved from Louisiana to California in 1956. Paxton grew up in Los Angeles, and he's made a name for himself on the coasts at events including the Brooklyn Folk Festival. Though he mastered many instruments while growing up — and has been legally blind since the age of 16 — he's known for playing Delta blues in the style of the 1920s and 1930s, as on songs like "Candy Man," and he cites influences including Fats Waller and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Onstage, Paxton mostly picks and strums a guitar or banjo, but he also plays the piano, violin and harmonica.
Tribute to Fats Domino with special guests
1:45 p.m.-3 p.m.
In October 2017, the world lost one of modern American music's most influential figures, sparking tributes around the globe. This one comes courtesy of musicians with a variety of connections to the late R&B and rock 'n' roll icon. Bonnie Raitt and Irma Thomas contributed tracks to the post-Hurricane Katrina salute Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino. Davell Crawford counted Domino as both an influence and close friend. Jon Batiste, an avowed student of all of his hometown's piano greats, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times that he studied Domino more closely after realizing that an "African-American man, born in the Jim Crow South, was a founder of a mostly white musical movement." Al "Lil Fats" Jackson carries the torch for Domino's vocal style. At 11:50 a.m. Saturday, a jazz funeral for Domino is scheduled to parade around the Fair Grounds before a statuette in his honor is unveiled in Congo Square's "Ancestors" area.
Congo Square Stage
2:10 p.m.-3:15 p.m.
Between a memoir, cookbook, reality TV show, eponymous rose wine and collaborations with Beyonce and Drake, Big Freedia has more than lived up to an unofficial role as New Orleans' bounce ambassador. All of that pales in comparison, however, to Freedia's stage performance — a musical theater-worthy blitzkrieg of hot beats, unabashedly sex-positive rhymes and the thrusts, twerks, splits and jumps executed by a pulsating team of dancers whose flexibility defies most reasonable expectations about the human body. Freedia's underlying messages about self-empowerment and self-love, meanwhile, make the live show's overstimulation even more dynamic. Freedia recently released "Rent," the first single from the forthcoming Third Ward Bounce EP, and is the subject of the 2018 Congo Square poster.
Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses
Economy Hall Tent
3:05 p.m.-4:05 p.m.
Aurora Nealand's roster of increasingly diverse and experimental projects veers far outside the traditional jazz realm of her Royal Roses band. But there's a reason the quintet she started 18 years ago is consistently heralded as being among the most creative and fresh interpreters of the music of artists such as Sidney Bechet and Django Reinhardt: The multi-reedist and singer's approach to the historic repertoire is playful and insightful, her chops are no joke and her band's uncanny collective improvisation yields moments of pure joy for jazz fans.
- Photo by Susan Weiand
Bonnie Raitt | 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
3:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m.
Bonnie Raitt's deep connections to New Orleans are evident once again on tour this year in the form of keyboardist Jon Cleary, who's already played a handful of dates with her this spring. Her 20th album, Dig in Deep features Raitt mining her blues inspiration for ideas that showcase her slide guitar skills more than other recent work. Her previous album, 2012's emotion-drenched Slipstream, had a decidedly quieter feel. The gentle grit in her voice gets a workout that's all energy one moment and dark contemplation the next.
Congo Square Stage
3:45 p.m.-5 p.m.
Nearly 20 years after his breakthrough Like Water for Chocolate, rapper Common has carved a space in politically powerful hip-hop that's also resonated off the mic, from activism to Hollywood. With Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins, Common commands the jazz, hip-hop and R&B supergroup August Greene with his penetrating social commentary underlining his mission and message in Emmy-winning single "Letter to be Free" from Ava Duvernay's documentary 13th, reflecting on the legacy of slavery and mass incarceration. August Greene's self-titled March debut finds the longtime collaborators shimmering in their reflections of the past and present, laying the ground for what they hope to come.
Charles Lloyd and the Marvels with Lucinda Williams
WWOZ Jazz Tent
4:15 p.m.-5:40 p.m.
Tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd was among the first jazz musicians to bridge what formerly was a more pronounced divide between jazz, rock and non-Western regional and spiritual music. His collaborators have run the gamut from Ornette Coleman to The Beach Boys. For this performance, Lloyd's Marvels lineup includes drummer Kendrick Scott, bassist Reuben Rogers, guitarist Stuart Mathis and Greg Leisz on lap and pedal steel guitar. The addition of Lucinda Williams picks up where the Marvels' 2016 debut, I Long to See You (which features guests Willie Nelson and Norah Jones), left off — with a vocalist channeling Lloyd's long-held love of the art of song. Expect a mix of blues, folk-tinged melodies, delicate guitar solos and improvisation that hints at Lloyd's affection for Eastern music as they showcase new tunes from the forthcoming Vanished Gardens and classics from his catalog.
The Johnson Extension
4:15 p.m.-5 p.m.
Rev. Lois Dejean has said she learned to sing from her brother, who learned to sing from their father, a pastor and namesake of the Johnson Extension. Today, the sprawling vocal ensemble represents at least five generations of Dejean's family. Their presence at Jazz Fest can be measured in generational terms, as well. The group's rousing mix of roof-raising spiritual music and emotion-drenched praise has been a highlight of the Gospel Tent for more than 20 years.
The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars with Steven Bernstein
4:20 p.m.-5:15 p.m.
Slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein is a natural addition to the wild, jazz-ensconced funk that's been the Klezmers' filter for traditional Jewish music over the past three decades. His affinity for New Orleans music dates back to his 1999 release Diaspora Soul, a groovy, avant-garde jazz interpretation of Jewish folk songs that invoked sounds associated with the New Orleans songbook. Though his name gets top-guest billing here, he's one of multiple horn additions to saxophonist Ben Ellman's woozy, Eastern Europe-by-way-of-New Orleans sound. Aurora Nealand and Dan Oestreicher bring more brass to the lineup, alongside Stanton Moore and Doug Garrison on drums.
Congo Square Stage
5:45 p.m.-7 p.m.
On his debut album American Teen, Khalid rebels from an oversaturated pop music stratosphere with spare beats, drowsy ambient washes and ambivalent romance and disaffected emotional ballads. His unassuming voice drifts into and out of his songs, his tenderness contradicting the urgency in his lyrics — inescapable radio hits "Location" and "Young, Dumb & Broke" are his exhausted pleas for phone-free human interaction. By "Saved," he's "erased all the pictures from my phone of me and you."
The Last Bandoleros
Fais Do-Do Stage
5:50 p.m.-7 p.m.
The heart of San Antonio's Tex-Mex flavored country-rock rising stars The Last Bandoleros are bassist and singer Diego and Emilio Navaira, sons of the late Grammy-winning Tejano artist Emilio Navaira. While their dad was known for his more traditional sound, the younger Navairas — along with guitarists Jerry Fuentes and Derek James — hew more closely to rock, balancing soft twang with edgy guitar blasts and three- and four-part vocal harmonies that have inspired comparisons to the Beatles (though the Bandoleros' light and breezy vibe often feels more Beach Boys than Fab Four).