Troy Sawyer, whose family lineage includes Buddy Bolden co-writer and Louis Armstrong collaborator Louis D. James (and first cousin Leon Bridges), has long established his own legacy in New Orleans music. The accomplished trumpeter, composer and educator leads Troy Sawyer and the Elementz, a fusion group combining funk, latin and soul music. Today, the band premieres a new single, this one infused with the zydeco magic of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr.
“Rock Your Soul,” Sawyer tells OffBeat.com, represents new life, beginnings, freedom and the city of New Orleans. Inspired deeply by the death of his father and the birth of his only child, the song acknowledges the proverbial circle of life. “It’s also the perfect song to release during Mardi Gras time because it has a celebratory energy that Mardi Gras exudes,” Sawyer says.
Collaborating with Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. was an idea conceived at the Banlieues Bleues Festival in Paris, the setting for the two musicians’ first meeting. Years later, after the two both returned to New Orleans, Sawyer happened to sit in with Dopsie’s band at a West Bank gig. “One day, I was writing some music and I heard Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. on it because he brings so much excitement and soul to the stage. He came to the studio and I played the track and he loved it. He got in the vocal booth and went off. I call him my big brother and he calls me his lil brother. We have a genuine connection that’s beyond just making music also.”
Recorded at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, “Rock Your Soul” features Sawyer on trumpet and vocals, Laquay Frazier on tenor saxophone, Stephen Walker on trombone, Jentlemen Sharp on keys, Billy Frank on guitar and CJ on drums. Also integral to the song’s final sound are Mike Harvey, who mixed it. Daryl Dickerson served as engineer, while David Farrell handled the mastering.
“Rock Your Soul” will appear on a forthcoming album from Troy Sawyer and the Elementz, which he expects to be completed in the next couple of months.
The band will perform at this year’s French Quarter Fest on Saturday, April 13 from 2 – 3:25 p.m. on the Jack Daniels Stage. For more information, visit www.TroySawyerMusic.com. Click here to find “Rock Your Soul” on streaming services.