Michot and Leyla McCalla’s melody makers
(New Electrical Records)
It’s always exciting to hear Louis Michot and Leyla McCalla collaborate. The two musicians are remarkable in their work not only in preserving traditional music – Cajun and South Louisian styles for Michot and Haitian folk for McCalla – but in shattering all stifling assumptions about these styles, proving that they live, breathe. and are current. McCalla in 2016 joined Michot in New York for performances as part of the violinist and singer’s residency at The Stone, a space for experimental and avant-garde works. McCalla and her cello then appeared on Lost Bayou Ramblers’ “Kalenda” and last year she joined Michot’s Melody Makers at Music Box Village as well as a few Broadside performances over the past few months.
In March, McCalla and the Melody Makers – Michot, guitarist Mark Bingham, bassist Bryan Webre and drummer Kirkland Middleton – got together on a small island on Michot’s property, lit a campfire, and recorded the Five song EP “Tiny Island”. They also shot a short concert video to accompany the release. A little more intimate than normal Melody Makers electric sets – sounds of frogs and insects can be heard in the background – “Tiny Island” features the band settling down in traditional and original songs in Cajun French and English. Haitian creole. It’s a lovely example of the partnership between people who care deeply about folk music. – JAKE CLAPP
The Nth Power
The Nth Power formed in New Orleans a decade ago as a side project while Nikki Glaspie was Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk drummer. While initially linked to funk and R&B, and at one point included keyboardist Nigel Hall, The Nth Power merged into a contemporary soul music trio with Nick Cassarino on guitar and vocals and Nate Edgar. on bass. It’s quite clear on its late September release “Reverence”, especially with the uplifting messages and feel of songs like the album opening “Reach Out” and “Joy”. There’s a little more of a gospel feel to “Freedom”, with singer Cheryl Pepsii Riley also appearing on the new album release of “Holy Rain”. “Take My Soul” is a long bluesy jam driven by Cassarino guitar and the story of maintaining faith while feeling abandoned. The album also occasionally flirts with jazzy flourishes and reggae beats – Edgar spent a few years with John Brown’s Body. “Spirits” features the vocals of Neville and Nick Daniels III from Dumpstaphunk and the unmistakable funky horn of Maceo Parker. Former Tedeschi Trucks keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, who died in February 2019, contributed 10 of the 11 tracks. He also contributed to the flute solo on “Joy”. The album is Nth Power’s first release in six years, and it is both well-polished and serious in its messages of hope. The group is in town to perform on Wednesday October 13 at the Bal Megalomaniacs at the Howlin ‘Wolf. – COVIELLO
“It felt like everyone had to reboot, basically, and I wasn’t immune to that.”
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