Sunday, February 17, 2008

NBA Gives Love to New Orleans Musical Talent

Big props to the NBA's All-Star Game, held this weekend at the New Orleans Arena and televised live on TNT, for giving SO MUCH national exposure to so many top-rank Crescent City musicians.

Tonight, before the game began, Stephanie Jordan sang The Star-Spangled Banner, with the help of Branford Marsalis on soprano saxophone and guitarist Jonathan Dubose, Jr.
And just prior to tip-off, the crowd was entertained with the dance-inducing funk of the Rebirth Brass Band, with (former Rebirth leader) Kermit Ruffins on trumpet and Trombone Shorty, AKA Troy Andrews.

For halftime, Harry Connick Jr. and his big band anchored an extravaganza of piano talent -- a continuation, if you will, of the venerable piano-professor tradition in New Orleans.

Connick and Ellis Marsalis (biological father of Branford, Wynton, Jason and Delfeayo, and spiritual father of a generation of NOLA jazz musicians) opened with a spirited "Sweet Georgia Brown." Next up was Dr. John (photo, above) and Davell Crawford with "Iko Iko," Art Neville (of the Meters) and (his son) Ivan Neville, on Professor Longhair's "Big Chief."

Allen Toussaint and Jonathan Batiste capped the segment with a rousing version of Toussaint's "Yes We Can Can," which has become a sort of theme song for the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, post-Katrina.

Last night, for the weekend's dunk-shot competition and other events during All-Star Saturday night, more NOLA talent was on tap, with Dr. John doing "What a Wonderful World," Christian Scott playing the National Anthem and blue-eyed soul guy Marc Broussard singing "Home." The Dirty Dozen Brass Band was also in the house.

Aside from demonstrating (again) the wealth of American musical talent hailing from New Orleans, the gathered talent shone a light on the number of NOLA families with multiple generations of musicians. Scott, BTW, is the nephew of saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr.

Broussard's "Must Be the Water" EP will be released digitally on Feb. 19. For more information, click here.

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