The musically natural connection between New Orleans and the Newport Jazz Festival was strong again this year. Crescent City native Terence Blanchard performed with his band on the Quad Stage on Saturday, August 3. Pianist Herbie Hancock sat in for the encore — a take on “Footprints” in honor of festival honoree Wayne Shorter, with whom Hancock performed a few minutes earlier on the main stage at Fort Adams State Park.
On Sunday, it dominated the festival’s intimate Harbor Stage with strong performances by pianist Jonathan Batiste’s band Stay Human and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Batiste opened his hour-long set (plus two encore numbers) with a funky solo piano take on the “Star Spangled Banner” that conjured Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and even a bit of Jelly Roll without losing any of Batiste’s own considerable flair and charm. With New York-based Stay Human, he mixed originals and a few New rleans staples: “The Entertainer,” “On The Sunny Side of the Street” and a bit of “St. James Infirmary.”
The DDBB is still going strong after 36 years as a working unit. The septet had crowd members dancing and waving hankies throughout its set, which opened with a cover of Donald Byrd’s funky “Do It Fluid.” Its home town medley included “Paul Barbarin’s Second Line,” “E-flat Blues” and the mandatory “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Festival producer George Wein has another Dirty Dozen connection. He produced the band’s first album through his short-lived George Wein Collection on Concord Records. “They ushered in a bold new sound then, and they continue to make their mark on new audiences around the world,” Wein said.
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All photos courtesy of Ken Franckling. For more photos from the New Orleans music scene visit OffBeat’s Flickr page.