Why isn’t New Orleans music accorded a greater presence in contemporary jazz? The city’s isolation from the musical mainstream is due in part to the eccentricities of its forms and the perception that it’s too closely tied to tradition. A Grammy for Rebirth and Trombone Shorty’s two chart-topping releases notwithstanding, New Orleans jazz doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Case in point: Doug Belote’s spectacular new release Magazine St.
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Belote, a go-to New Orleans drummer in a variety of formats, assembled a crack team of instrumentalists and writers to make a jazz-funk outing that immediately takes its place alongside the classics of the genre. Belote uses a variety of lineups mixing local and national musicians for a profound blend. Rick Trolsen on trombone, Roderick Paulen on tenor and Jason Mingledorff on baritone sax. Producer/guitarist Shane Theriot contributes the bulk of the material — the Zappaesque “Pork Tchoup,” powered by an awesome B3 part from Johnny Neel; “Somethin’ in Da Water,” which brings in super bassist Oteil Burbridge and David Torkanowsky on B3; “Tramp Stamp,” graced by funk pioneer Randy Brecker on trumpet soloing over a wicked breakdown; the slow drag “In the Cracks,” with George Porter on bass and Jon Cleary on clavinet, piano and B3; and “What’s ‘Pho’ Lunch,” with Kirk Joseph slammin’ on sousaphone and Neel back on B3. Theriot’s guitar work is stunning throughout on these tracks. Belote’s composition “Cajuns in Cuba” moves away from the funk for a creative set piece featuring James Singleton on bass, Brandon Miller on accordion, Beau Thomas on fiddle and Mike Dillon on vibes. Phish bassist Mike Gordon keeps Miller’s accordion in a lineup that also adds the masterful Dave Easley on pedal steel guitar for “Voodon’t.” Belote closes things out with a hip rendition of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” played by a quartet with Calvin Turner on bass, Jeff Coffin on sax and Lawrence Sieberth playing Brubeck on piano and clavinet as well as contributing the arrangement. This set moves at a breakneck pace without ever pausing for breath, a thrilling aural workout for the engaged listener. It’s a fine example of the kind of creative work a fan can find any night of the week in this musical paradise.