Sunday night jazz sessions at Kemp’s (2720 Lasalle St.), which feature saxophonist Fred Kemp at the helm with his musical partner, drummer Smokey Johnson, will kick off again beginning February 14. Because of Kemp’s busy schedule—which includes road trips and studio dates with Fats Domino—it has been about six months since the club has held its Sunday night jam. As always, musicians are invited to sit in, which has often resulted in some great combos. The action starts at 7 p.m. The Rebirth Brass Band continues to hold down Thursday nights at Kemp’s (starting at 10pm).
Speaking of the great Smokey Johnson, whose drumming exemplifies that world-renowned New Orleans sound, he’s got a new gig Saturday nights at Joe’s Cozy Corner on North Robertson and Ursulines (1532 Ursulines Ave., 561-9216). Well, it’s actually more like a Sunday morning show—the band strikes up at midnight and goes on into the proverbial wee hours. Again, Johnson will team up with Kemp, and the group will include pianist Ed Frank and bassist Erving Charles or Richard Payne as available. It’s gonna steam.
Amid Snug Harbor’s standard musical schedule, Thursday nights have been declared “Jazz Showcase” nights, with the artists changing every week. February’s lineup will include some special, even “rare,” appearances by some of New Orleans’ finest.
This month’s revolving Thursday night schedule includes Astral Project on the 4th, Davell Crawford on February 11, Lillian Boutte on the 18th and Earl Turbinton’s Trinity on February 25.
A regular on Thursdays, Davell Crawford returns to stun crowds with his great talent. This pianist/vocalist high schooler, grandson of the great Sugar Boy Crawford, keeps delivering ever improving performances, particularly when backed by Jazz veterans.
Guitarist Scott Goudeau, rarely heard at the Frenchmen Street club, will showcase on March 4. Goudeau will be working with a trio including Troy Jones and Ed Vigueira. The group will be performing material from Goudeau’s most recent release on the local Broken Records, Paint Sky, as well as cuts from previous albums, mixing the fusion he’s known for with some straight-ahead jazz standards.
We are used to seeing trumpeter Chuck Easterling in front of his big band, blowing, directing and jiving with the audience. He’s also a familiar sight in any big band trumpet section. As part of Snug Harbor’s Thursday showcases, however, Easterling will be heard in a less familiar setting: leading a small combo. No matter the size—when it comes to Easterling, swing is the thing.
News Releases: Two new Jazz albums have been released by local independent record companies.
On George Buck’s Jazzology label comes Pud Brown and His New Orleans Jazzmen’s Palm Court Strut. The name, of course, comes from Nina Buck’s Decatur Street restaurant/club, the Palm Court Cafe. Check out the words to the title cut, sung by the legendary Danny Barker: “Do the Palm Court Strut, swing your butt…”
AFO (All For One) Records has released Phillip Manuel’s album A Time for Love. The vocalist is backed by an all-star band on this record, which was produced by pianist David Torkanowsky. Both albums are available by mail.
This month’s featured jazz radio personality is Fred Kasten.
His duties: WWNO (89.9-FM) jazz Director, Senior Producer and On-Air Talent.
Background: From Mobile, Alabama. Graduate of the University of Alabama. Ten years in broadcasting including WCKW, WWIW and public radio in Mobile; at WWNO six years. Plays piano and trombone.
Influences: Thelonious Monk, Hank Williams, Herbie Green. All of the jazz selections heard on WWNO’s “jazz New Orleans” shows, which are broadcast nightly from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., are chosen by Kasten. The station’s policy for jazz is to concentrate on new and recent releases of mainstream jazz (with local artists, the station doesn’t limit itself strictly to jazz and will, for instance, play a new release by someone such as bluesman Snooks Eaglin funkster George Poner). Approximately 80 percent of the music on anyone show is new, says Kasten. The remaining 20 percent is split between discs referred to as “recurrent,” which are four to five months old, and “gold,” which are albums from the general library. “It’s a way of giving the new music some kind of even-handed exposure,” says Kasten of this “current based” programming. WWNO’s nightly ticket giveaways his age, went to performances at local clubs are used to promote upcoming shows. The jazz programs often have CD giveaways as well as promotion for national artists coming to the city. Interviews With local jazz artists are not usually heard on the “Jazz New Orleans” programs, but instead on the station’s “Inside the Arts” shows (at 12:15 p.m. and 10:25 p.m.).
Kasten is proud of the station’s live broadcasts, which have most recently been aired from the Sandbar on UNO’s campus. Other sites have included the Glass House, Snug Harbor, and Tyler’s. “We can deliver to a listener a compact-disc quality sound from a site,” says Kasten. He added that the station is currently looking for underwriting to continue live broadcasts.
Kasten’s programming credo? “To be accessible without being ordinary.”