Grammy-nominated Zydeco artist Corey Ledet pays homage to his family and musical heritage on his latest release, Corey Ledet Zydeco. This is Ledet’s 14th album since releasing his full-length debut (3 Years 2 Late) in 2004, and features the multi-talented artist performing on vocals, accordion, drums, and washboard. Ledet’s unique style is influenced by multiple genres including early jazz, be-bop, blues, and traditional Creole music, as well as by musicians of Zydeco past and present.Continue reading
Dubbed the “Jimi Hendrix of the accordion” by Rolling Stone magazine, Dwayne “Dopsie” Rubin is a master of the “blood pumping zydeco” that seeps from the heart of Louisiana’s bayous on a hot summer night. Known for playing his accordion like a guitar, Dopsie’s fiery style incorporates elements of rock, funk, and R&B as well as the more traditional zydeco learned at the knee of his father, the late Alton Rubin Sr. (a.k.a. Rockin’ Dopsie). On his latest release, Bon Ton, Dopsie definitely ushers in summer with some good times and great music. His backing band, The Zydeco Hellraisers, features Paul Lafleur on washboard, Brandon David on guitar, Tim McFatter on sax, Dion Pierre on bass, and Dondrell Fleming on drums. Together they perform a synthesis of the blues, rhythm and blues, and traditional Cajun music that comprise the zydeco tradition. Continue reading
Title: Numbers Man
Artists: Andy T-Nick Nixon Band
Label: Blind Pig
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: August 28, 2015
The Andy T-Nick Nixon Band combines the flavors of Nashville and Southern California, a partnership created when guitarist Andy Talamantez moved from the West Coast to Tennessee and hooked up with Nashville veteran James T. “Nick” Nixon, whose voice was honed in the church and clarified by opera, allowing him to both growl and croon his way through soul, rock and blues. Now they tour the country in their 1953 GMC Greyhound bus, spreading their brand of blues far and wide. On their third album, Numbers Man, they are joined by their regular band—Larry van Loon on Hammond B3, Jim Klingler on drums, and Sam Persons on bass—plus several special guests.
Kicking off with an original song on a familiar theme, “Shut the Front Door” features the dueling guitars of Andy T and Anson Funderburgh, while Nixon gives a rollicking account of a man left to booze and drugs after his baby leaves. On the title track, The Texas Horns fire on all cylinders, adding some rhythm and blues to the mix while extended solos are given to the guitars and B3. “Blue Monday” is a satisfying slow burner, with Nixon tearing into the vocals on the front end, but leaving plenty of space to showcase the band. Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds) picks up the harmonica on “Sundown Blues,” while “Tall Drink of Water” and “What Went Wrong” have a distinct zydeco flavor courtesy of Zeke Jarmon on rubboard and Christian Dozzler on accordion. Pulling out all of the stops on “This World We Live In,” the band is joined by Kevin McKendree on B3, Steve F’dor on piano, Rick Reed on bass, and Denise Fraser on drums. The socially conscious song, penned by Andy T, draws on themes of war, religion and intolerance, bringing the album to a close on a blaze of searing guitar solos underlying Nixon’s vocals mourning the state of the world with an element of despair.
Over the course of 14 tracks, Numbers Man offers a wide range of styles from traditional blues to rhythm and blues, jump blues, zydeco, and even a touch of jazz—performed with an exceedingly high level of musicianship led by the electrifying guitar of Andy T.
Listen on Spotify here
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss
Concha Buika. Nina de Fuego (Wea International, August 2008)
Concha Buika is a Spanish artist of African descent. Born on the island of Majorca, her parents were refugees from Equatorial Guinea. Though extremely popular in Spain, Buika is just beginning to garner international attention for her unique brand of flamenco fusion. Niña de Fuego, her third album, recently received a Latin Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Possessing a uniquely husky voice, Buika takes on the Spanish copla, then adds some ranchera songs along with several new songs she composed in collaboration with Javier Limón, who has produced some of flamenco’s biggest stars.
Watson is an accomplished fiddler from Louisianna (via Texas) who specializes in reviving old Creole fiddling styles while striving to make this music accessible to new audiences. He honed his skills while playing with Dexter Ardoin and the Creole Ramblers, Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys, and most recently the Pine Leaf Boys. On his self-titled new release he offers up a number of new songs that he composed, including “Cedric Zydeco,” “TexaCreole Two-Step,” and “Zydeco du Violon,” along with his own arrangements of traditional tunes such as “La Valse de Grand Basile” and “La Vieille Chanson de Mardi Gras.” In addition to fiddle, Watson also pitches in on accordian and vocals, and is assisted by Jeffrey Broussard on electric bass, Chas Justus on electric and acoustic guitar, and Corey Ledet on scrubboard and triangle, among others.
Black Stars: Ghana’s Hiplife Generation (Out Here Records, May 2008)
This compilation documents the development of hiplife, a hybrid form of hip hop and highlife that emerged in Ghana in the 1990s. The music draws on various international forms- including American and Jamaican hip hop, R&B, Afro-Cuban jazz, dancehall, ragga and reggae- while incorporating indiginous Ghanian languages (rapping in Twi), styles and instruments, such as the two-stringed kolgo. Featured artists include Reggie Rockstone (known as the “Godfather of Hiplife”), Tic Tac, Batman Samini (“King of African Dancehall”), King Ayisoba, and Ofori Amponsah, along with several artists representing the London diaspora.
Burning Spear. Jah is Real (Burning Music, August 2008)
One of the biggest names in reggae roots music, Burning Spear (a.k.a. Winston Rodney) has released his most ambitious record since relocating to Queens, New York several years ago. Most notable are the contributions of Parliament Funkadelic’s Bootsy Collins on bass and Bernie Worrell on keyboards, who add a heavy dose of funk to the mix. The political messages, however, are still at the forefront, especially on “One Africa” and “No Compromise.”
Seckou Keita Quintet. Silimbo Passage (World Adventures, June 2008)
Senegalese-born Seckou Keita, also known as the “Hendrix of kora,” fronts this UK-based quintet, which also features his sister Binta Suso on vocals and his brother Surahata Susso on drums, along with Egyptian violinist Samy Bishai and Italian bassist Davide Montovani. Intent on expanding the traditional range of the kora, Keita experiments here with new tunings while also drawing upon his griot roots and incorporating a vast range of African and international influences.