After a late dinner at Stella! on Chartres (yeah, do it, Papa Scott!! Cook that funky tasting menu thang the way you do!), I headed for nearby Frenchmen Street to catch the James Westfall Trio which was playing for free at one of the better jazz venues in the Crescent City, Snug Harbor. Free means playing for tips, of course, but you don't often find a combo of such quality playing for tips. But at a place like Snug Harbor you do (or the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, where they played the previous afternoon, presumably paid a decent sum by the NPS and relieved of the need for a tip kitty though you never know)---and they were excellent. Westfall on vibraphone was fast, precise, creative---reminded me somehow of McCoy Tyner's piano playing. He put a lot into his playing and he got excellent support on bass and drums---the bass player in particular played some excellent solos (and I'm no automatic fan of bass solos). Afterward, I hit the Apple Barrel across the street for a small blues/country/rock/folk combo that was pretty darn good for another playing-the-late-show-for-tips band. Even one of the two Dylan covers was good. Then hit the Cafe Negril for a solid reggae band. I guess I was making up for a week of evenings spent hanging out with quantum types in bars that didn't feature live music. Actually, Friday night Jamie Vicary (postdoc at Oxford in Samson Abramsky and Bob Coecke's group), Johnny Feng (postdoc at NRL in Keye Martin's group) and I finally left Keye and friends at the Napoleon bar in the quarter, and went on over to Frenchmens only to find it blacked out and everyone hanging out on the street waiting for the lights to get turned back on. We waited too, for 45 minutes or so, listening to an excellent trombone/sousaphone/banjo trio sitting in the doorway of a closed cafe playing some pretty traditional-sounding New Orleans stuff quite well, and then left. Bottom line: if you're in New Orleans, check out the music calendars at:
but if you don't know what else to do head for Frenchmen and see what's going down at Snug Harbor. Other places to check out include (for jazz) Sweet Lorraine's; and whoever's playing at the Maple Leaf is always worth checking out online to see if you want to go down and hear them. On Saturday, I decided to eat at Stella rather than spend the evening at the Maple Leaf, but was strongly tempted to go for the blues band that was playing, Jason Ricci and New Blood.