NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVALS OF NOW AND YORE: SONNY ROLLINS, MCCOY TYNER, HERLIN RILEY, CELIA CRUZ, LEE KONITZ, TOPSY CHAPMAN & MORE
This week on American Routes, we’re celebrating the long running New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with songs and interviews from the performers that make the festival happen. We hear from longtime local favorites, like chanteuse Topsy Chapman and funk drummer Herlin Riley, as well as perennial visitors and jazz titans, McCoy Tyner and Sonny Rollins. We’ll delve into the archives to remember the late Cuban songstress Celia Cruz and revisit our interview with saxophonist Lee Konitz, who made his Jazz Fest premier in 2017.
Exploring the musical ties that bind, we spin platters from our favorite harmonizing pairs and family affairs. We map the careers of West Texas-troubadour Jimmie Dale Gilmore of the Flatlanders and So-Cal rocker Dave Alvin of the Blasters and trace the events that led to their cosmic collaboration. And we follow the journey of funk singer Syl Johnson and blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson from Mississippi to Chicago, and the different paths the sibling rivals carved out in the Windy City’s electric soundscape. Plus, country duets and family bands. Soul sisters and blues brothers. Lovers, kindred spirits and lots others.
American Routes gears up for festival season by revisiting live performances from the 2017 Festival International, a showcase of French music from southwest Louisiana and the wider Francophone world along with blues, Chicano nouveau and swamp pop. We hear female Cajun supergroup Bonsoir, Catin tear up the stage; bluesman Corey Harris ring out the Mississippi Delta’s West African roots; and blue-eyed soul from swamp pop legends Johnnie Allan, T.K. Hulin, and G.G. Shinn. Plus, accordionist CJ Chenier, son of Clifton Chenier, proves he is carrying on the king of zydeco’s royal bloodline. Las Cafeteras from East Los Angeles give us a taste of Veracruz’s Afro-Latin jarocho music, including the folk-turned-pop song “La Bamba.” And Louisiana singer and fiddler Cedric Watson adds Caribbean and Latin flavors to his homegrown Creole sound.
This week, American Routes revisits the best live performances from the 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival. We’ll feature swamp blues, Mississippi Delta blues, hill country blues, and the blues rocked out. Artists include Howlin’ Wolf’s pianoman Henry Gray, harp player Lazy Lester, Kenny Neal and family, Slim Harpo’s right-hand guitar man James “Chicken Scratch” Johnson, songmaker Luke Winslow King, New Orleans soul funkster Walter “Wolfman” Washington and R.L. Burnside’s grandson, Kent Burnside. Plus a visit to Teddy’s Juke Joint nearby on Highway 61 in Zachary, LA.