Despite the worst blizzard of the season, a hearty 200 or so music fans, including fellow Zoner and all around ace dude DavefromMN, came out to see the inaugural Sessions concert at the Cedar Cultural Center here in Minneapolis featuring a contingent of New Orleans players led by the mighty George Porter Jr.on bass and vocals, Johnny Vicadovich on drums/vocals and Joe Krown on piano and Hammond B-3, plus from here the great Minnesota jazz guitarist Dean McGraw and his tenor sax player Brandon Wozniak. Roughly divided into two hour long sets( the second went for 75 minutes plus encore), the show consisted of a first set heavy on 60's-70's soul jazz replete with heavy doses of Krown's B-3 work and Vicadovich's humorous singing and MCing. Yet the best two songs of the set were a more traditional jazz tune featuring Wozniak's stellar tenor lines and a soul tune featuring Porter on the vocals, which reminded me of some of the anti-hard drug songs of Curtis Mayfield. I knew what a monster Porter was on the bass from his work with PBS and The Meters but I did not realize what a great singer and straight up jazz player he was also.His bass lines held together the sound allowing the organ or sax or drums to carry the melody and leads while McGraw spiced things up with some nice fills and effects from his Strat.
The second set was centered around more traditional New Orleans fare like Tipitina's and Junco Partner and brought the guitar more into the mix as the lead instrument. Working the volume knob and slide like Jeff Beck on the Live with Jan Hammer Group album, McGraw was able to enliven Junco Partner with a thrilling series of diving and soaring lead lines which only added to Porter's impassioned vocals. Wozniak's sax was also back in the forefront as they slid through Vicadovich's homage to his love of coffee, 12 Cups a Day. Riffing over Vicadovich's slithery drums and goofy vocals, the sax lit up the room with some serious skronk and wail. Blasting off patterns of notes and building the melody constantly, this song was one of the many highlights of a great night of improv. These guys had never even met, let alone rehearsed, which was apparent when Porter called Brandon - Brad when he cued him for one of the solos.
Hopefully this series featuring Minneapolis players matched with players from other cities will continue to grow in the future. If it doesn't this was a great opportunity to see someone like Porter in a nice small room with an appreciative crowd of music lovers. A great night of music despite the shitty weather, it was good to see a lot of the old Deadhead community out in force last night and a reminder that good music can liven up a lot of things even a freaking blizzard.
I read your review then happened to stop by bt.etree and there it is
thanks for the review I look forward to checking it out.
Yeah, Canyon I think you'll like it. I wish I knew more of the more traditional jazz tunes and their composers, because I really enjoyed those songs a lot. Fun night that's for sure!
I'm guessing the soul tune that Porter sang is called "Here, But I'm Gone" which is a Curtis Mayfield song from the last cd he recorded. George has recorded it and does it quite often in his live shows.
Any mention of Snooks Eaglin?
There was a mention of Snooks Eaglin - someone gave George a book on New Orleans music at the end of the show,and George mentioned that Snooks was one of many that they were grieving for,and how Snooks was one of his musical mentors when they came back out for the encore. Thanks for the info JimF, that sounds about right, the line leading into the chorus went something like " How did I let my mind get so far blown?" which fits with the title - really great vocal performance on that one, for a big dude he can hit those high Mayfield notes really sweetly.
Nice review Cray, thanks for getting my ass out of the house. I'll download the show and get you a copy.
The Twin Cities have a great tradition of supporting New Orleans music... it's that damn Mississippi River that connects us!!
The river which runs both ways... Yeah, The Subdudes, Rads, Cowboy Mouth, Rebirth BB, Nevilles,Tab Benoit, Lil Wayne, etc. all have pretty good followings here. Personally, I've got to pull the trigger on JazzFest one of these years! Read a great jazz book called Louis Armstrong's New Orleans for class last fall, really intrigued me as did reading a Walt Whitman biography with a detailed chapter on W.W.'s time in New Orleans. Good food, music, parties - shit yeah count me in!
Snooks Eaglin was one of the best. I'll miss him this year at Jazzfest. If you have never been to Jazzfest, do yourself a favor and check it out. The festival takes place during the day at the fairgrounds/racetrack. At night, the clubs are cookin' with music until dawn. And there is something special about the city of New Orleans which makes the experience truly unique.
>>I've got to pull the trigger on JazzFest one of these years!
Do yourself a favor and do it. It's Disneyland for people who like to party and see live music. It's the greatest festival in the world if you are into jazz/blues/roots/funk, etc.
I'm not going this year and it's killing me. Next year fo' sho'.