Music News 5/23/2019


Mavis Staples, WE GET BY (Anti, $11.98) – Mavis Staples is celebrating her 80th birthday this spring by inviting some young collaborators to perform in some benefit shows for music education. And she has released another strong album, powerfully connecting gospel roots, the Stax sound (where she recorded with the Staple Singers), and the song legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. The songs on We Get By were written by Ben Harper (who also contributes a duet vocal on the title song), and Ms. Staples is accompanied by her rocking tour band. Songs include “Heavy on My Mind,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “One More Change.” The album cover features Gordon Parks’s photograph “Outside Looking In,” part of his photo essay “The Restrains: Open and Hidden,” published in Life Magazine in September, 1956.

NOTE: Mavis Staples will open up for Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap on Thursday, August 1.

Youssou N’Dour, HISTORY (Naïve, $16.99) – The Senegalese great has a new album, featuring collaborations with Babatunde Olatunji, Seinabo Sey, and Mohombi.

The National, I AM EASY TO FIND (4AD, $15.98) – The National’s Matt Berninger collaborated with a large cast of guest vocalists--Lisa Hannigan, Mina Tindle, Kate Stables, Sharon Van Etten, Gail Ann Dorsey, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus—and a new producer (film director Mike Mills) to open up the group’s sound. 



JAZZFEST: THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL (Smithsonian Folkways, 5 CDs & 136-page book, $98.98) – Folkways celebrates the 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, known to all as Jazzfest. The festival brings in some big names, but it has always prioritized local acts from New Orleans and showcased the wide variety of musical traditions from all around Louisiana. Jazz, blues, Cajun and Zydeco, Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, R&B, gospel, funk and bounce—the wealth of music is amazing, and it is the reason why the festival has so many devoted fans, and repeat visitors. Just some of the acts represented are: the Golden Eagles, Earl King, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, the Dixie Cups, Boozoo Chavis, Irma Thomas, the Zion Harmonizers, the Neville Brothers, Beausoleil, and Big Freedia. The set contains over 300 minutes of music over 5 CDs, and a big 136-page book with plenty of annotations and essays. Enjoy the Jazzfest!

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, SONGS: THE MUSIC OF ALLEN TOUSSAINT (Storyville, $15.99) – The newly re-organized New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, now under the leadership of drummer Adonis Ross, pay tribute to the late producer, singer, songwriter, and arranger Allen Toussaint—who is also heard singing his hit, “Yes We Can Can,” on the Jazzfest box set. The Orchestra does jazzy arrangements of “Southern Nights,” “Working in the Coal Mine,” “Java,” “Tequila,” “It’s Raining” and With You in Mind” (the latter two with guest vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater), among others.