Young jazz lioness Rebecca Barry celebrates the release of her long awaited debut CD, And Then Some, on Thursday, March 25th at The Funky Butt.
The twenty-three year old tenor player, who came up through the ranks studying under Tony Dagradi at Loyola University and then under Ed Peterson at University of New Orleans (where she achieved her masters degree in an unprecedented year and a half), is known for her rich tone and soulful, playful swing. She has established herself as one of the most consistently impressive young tenors in a city where talent is abundant.
The title of Barry’s upbeat, intensely grooving opening cut, “And Then Some,” seemed appropriate for the entire album, because, as she says, “it’s me, but it’s also all these other great musicians on the album.”
Indeed, pianists Victor Atkins and Mike Pellera, bassists James Singleton and Bill Huntington, drummers Johnny Vidacovich and Jason Marsalis – these are undoubtedly some of the finest players in New Orleans, and Barry deserves credit for self-producing a record that allows them all to stretch out and shine, as well as showcase her own prodigious talents.
There is a good mixture of funky, burning Barry originals, such as “M.TP.,” “Goose On Da Loose,” “Me Bossa Su Bossa,” and “Weeds Leaves” (a restructured interpretation of “Autumn Leaves”), as well as Billy Strayhorn’s “Ishfahan” and a stellar rendition of “Gypsies” by Rick Margitza (one of Barry’s sax heroes).
Throughout, Barry maintains a mature emphasis on feeling rather than technical flash. She doesn’t squeal at the high end, but” rather shows how comfortable she is in the lower register, growling and groaning with fat, bluesy tones reminiscent of the “Texas Tenor” style.
“Maybe it’s a macho man thing with young saxophone players,” she says. “They just want to show you how fast they can play. Does that make them better musicians? That’s what I always try to avoid. You have some kind of gift if you can draw an audience out with one note.”
On the 25th at Funky Butt, Barry’s quartet consists of Victor Atkins, Bill Huntington and Johnny Vidacovich. On the 28th and 29th at Storyville, she leads the same bana, except with Geoff Clapp on drums instead of Vidacovich.
Barry’s name is strangely absent from Snug Harbor’s “Women In Jazz” series, which runs March 15 – 21. The jazz bistro will feature Charmaine Neville (Mon.), Leigh Harris (Tues.), Patrice Fisher & Jazz From Mexico (Wed.), Lynne Arriale (Thurs.), Joanne Bracken (Fri. & Sat.), and Leah Chase (Sun.).
Spring is usually the best time for new releases in New Orleans, as Jazz Fest approaches, but spring of 1999 is extraordinary. On March 2nd, Sony Classical releases jazz In Film, a stunning work from’ trumpeter/film composer Terence Blanchard. Joining Blanchard is tenor sax legend Joe Henderson, Donald Harrison (alto sax), Steve Turre (trombone), the late pianist Kenny Kirkland, in one of his last recordings, Reginald Veal (bass), and Carl Allen (drums).
This all-star line~up interprets Blanchard’s new arrangements of jazz based scores for movies such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and The Pawnbroker. Blanchard, who has scored many movies, mostly for Spike Lee, knows exactly how to extract the magic from these classic movie themes. His trumpet playing soars, and the other musicians feast on this juicy material with a rarified vigor.
On March 23rd, Columbia releases Branford Marsalis’ latest, Requiem, which is also one of Kenny Kirkland’s last recording dates (as the title suggests). Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and bassist Eric Revis also join Branford on Requiem, which producer Delfeayo Marsalis says is “the most complete and resounding work by the Branford Marsalis quartet to date …a statement of musical attainment.” Indeed, there is great synergy on this album, as the band seems to unearth each song’s spiritual core, like drawing lava up from a mountain.
Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield’s Live At The Blue Note (Half Note), with Wess Anderson (sax), pianist Eric Reed and Delfeayo Marsalis (trombone), is also scheduled for release in March. This is the beginning of a remarkably prolific period for Irvin, as he is expected to have a new record of original material out on Basin St. Records in April, as well as A New Orleans Tribute To Duke Ellington, the live recording by the Irvin Mayfield All-Star Big Band out on STR records in April (just in time for the 100th anniversary of Duke’s birth).
Also due out before Jazz Fest is a new Kermit Ruffins record from Basin St. Records, and on STR, I Would Give All My Love, featuring singer Kim Prevost (New Orleans’ answer to Cassandra Wilson) and guitarist Bill Solley. Th new self-produced record from steel guitarist Dave Easley’s band Heartifacts is expected out by end of March. On Saturday, Marc 27th, at 2 p.m. the Louisiana Music Factory hosts a release party for Warren Clark’s French Quarter Jazz Band. This is a rare chance for the public to catch this top-notch ensemble, which mostly plays private events in New Orleans, except for the French Quarter Festival and Jazz Fest. Specializing in extremely tight, swinging renditions of traditional New Orleans jazz, their new Jazz That Swings, Sighs, or Sizzles lives up to its name.
Louisiana Red Hot Records has released Modern Jazz, The Beginnings, another edition in the “Robert Parker Jazz Classics in Digital Stereo” series. The roots of modern jazz traced from 1944 to 1946, through 22 original live performances by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Lionel Hampton and others, all stereo impressions of the original 78 rpm discs.
Those who attended drummer Ricky Sebastian’s February 5th gig at Funky Butt were treated to a surprise: the rich combination of pianist Henry Butler and young tenor wizard Clarence Johnson. Both players have deep southern soul and are capable of fantastic excursions. Listening to the second set was like getting onto a high powered motorcycle with a mind of its own: hold on for dear life and watch the landscape whiz past.
In March, we can look forward to the superb double bill of guitarist John Scofield and Michael Ray on March 12th, and also The Jazz Mandolin Project and Los Hombres Calientes on March 20th at Howlin’ Wolf. Jazz Mandolin Project’s latest CD, Tour De Flux, features fine improvised groove music, picking up right where Charlie Hunter and Medeski, Martin & Wood leave off.
The spring UNO “Jazz at the Sandbar” series is in full swing every Wednesday now, with tubist Matt Perrine on March 3rd, Frank Morgan on the 10th (he also plays Snug Harbor on the 11th and 12th with Peter Martin’s .trio), bassist Bill Huntington on the 17th, and the always charming singer Germaine Bazzle on the 24th.
Don’t forget that internationally renowned trumpeter Leroy Jones leads his band every Monday at Donna’s, with Charlie’s free BBQ and red beans & rice. Get the week started off right with some homecooked New Orleans jazz!