Sunday at Jazz Fest



Gente de Zona performs at Jazz Fest.
  • Gente de Zona performs at Jazz Fest.

Severe weather caused a delayed start at Jazz Fest Sunday, and the gates opened at approximately 3 p.m. But the attendees were able to hear a host of headliners, minus Pitbull, and there were no lines other than to get in the gates.

Cuban reggaeton group Gente de Zona performed to a limited but enthusiastic crowd at the Congo Square Stage, and several in the audience waved Cuban flags. The duo of Alexander Delgado and Randy Martinez, backed by a large horn section, seemed to enjoy their upbeat set  The duo teased the audience several times, mentioning the 1990s hit song and dance "Macarena," and eventually they performed it in its entirety, which the crowd enjoyed.

The Mavericks performed at the Fais Do-Do stage.
  • The Mavericks performed at the Fais Do-Do stage.

There was a less direct connection to Cuba at the Fais Do-Do stage, where The Mavericks performed a very danceable set of Tex-Mex rock. Lead singer Raul Malo is of Cuban descent, and he and the band were in Cuba last week filming a documentary for PBS. Though the band came out of Miami in the 1990s, it broke through in Nashville has almost no country sound. An accordion, trumpet and sax lend some border grooves, but Melo, guitarist Eddie Perez and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden build off more of a rock and rockabilly foundation.

The band led off with Fats Domino's "Be My Guest," and played its own tunes "Back in Your Arms Again," "Dance in the Moonlight" and, from its new album Brand New Day, "Easy as it Seems" and "Damned (If You Do)." At times, Melo dipped into a deeper voice, as on "I Will be Yours," but there were many songs on which he smiled broadly and bounced along like a Las Vegas crooner fronting a big band. The group really seemed to enjoy itself, and during one song near the end of the set, McFadden left the keyboards to dance around the stage in an energetic manner that seemed straight out of Martin Short's Ed Grimley bit from Saturday Night Live.

Many bands had audiences moving. At the Jazz & Heritage Stage, Lakou Mizik played a mix of parade and Carnival music, much of it reminiscent of New Orleans brass band music. But the band also had an accordion and the energy of zydeco. Some songs featured playful call and response ("Who wants biscuits and coffee?") and at one point the singer asked people in the crowd to flap their arms like bird wings. Most people did, except for a couple by one of the puddles left from the day's heavy rains. They just did the swim.

George Benson's appearance at the festival was cancelled and Maceo Parker and his band took the slot in the jazz tent. Parker is known for anchoring the funk in the bands of James Brown and George Clinton as well as backing Prince at times. He mixed heavy funk with some jazz. Most of his stellar band's members took long solos — long enough for everyone else to leave the stage. Parker leads the group through constant changes, picking up a few bars from a James Brown hit or one from Marvin Gaye, and then grooves off of that intro. Many in the tent got on their feet to dance at the slightest hint of a Brown song.

Parker often brings his cousin Darlene Parker on tour, and they play with "Stand By Me." At the jazz tent, the bass player started it, exiting his solo with the beginning strains of the tune. While the song is generally sweet and earnest, the Parkers play with it. Darlene at times turns it into a sultry come-on, and at times belts out parts in a frighteningly deep, throaty voice. There's even an interlude in which she scats while Maceo plays flute. It's both funny and entertaining. But audiences came to hear Parker play funk, and he delivered, as on tunes like Brown's "Gimme Some More."

Fans ignored puddles left by heavy rain on an abbreviated day at Jazz Fest.
  • Fans ignored puddles left by heavy rain on an abbreviated day at Jazz Fest.

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