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Jazz Fest Wraps Up With Funky Collaborations

The final day of the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival seemed to be all about collaborations.

The Big Easy’s music scene had been on display for the previous six days of Jazz Fest, and many of those who contributed came together Sunday.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band closed the Gentilly Stage, bringing such luminaries out as Bonnie Raitt, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earl, Allen Toussaint and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.

Trixie Minx and Fleur de Tease, representatives of New Orleans’ ongoing burlesque revival, spirited across the stage in dresses and parasols.

And local emerging star Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews popped out, as well.

And considering the fact that it was the Preservation Hall’s 50th anniversary, the group saved something special for the end.

To close the set, 100-year-old Lionel Ferbos and the nearly 90-year-old Wendell Eugene took the stage on one end while young students of the Pres Hall’s Junior Jazz Band took the other.

With four generations of musicians in the fold, there was a rousing version of “When the Saints Got Marching In,” followed by all special guests participating in the gospel standard “I’ll Fly Away.”

While that performance might have been the most creative use of cameos, there were others during Sunday’s Jazz Fest closer that deserve noting.

The Neville Brothers

The first family of New Orleans’ music always puts a period on the festival, with Aaron, Art, Cyril and Charles Neville giving the anticipatory crowd a sense of comfort with their harmonies and funky grooves.

Opening with “Shake Your Tambourine,” “Hey Pocky Way,” “Firo On the Bayou” and “Yellow Moon,” the Neville’s and their tight band had the audience dancing away.

There were visitors, as well.  Trombone Shorty was one that got some time for a solo, as was trumpeter Irvin Mayfield.   When Aaron Neville, who at 71 is still built like a brick house, offered a traditional rendition of “Amazing Grace,” the sun could finally set on the Acura Stage.

Galactic

Earlier in the day, before the Neville Brothers and alternative rock’s Foo Fighters, Galactic funked out a massive crowd at the Acura Stage.

Having just recently released Carnivale Electricos with the help of cameos from Trombone Shorty, Toussaint and soul queen Irma Thomas, the NOLA-based group had a field day on their home turf with many cuts from their latest.

Shorty, of course, came out to riff, as did a few guest singers, such as Corey Glover of Living Colour and War Chief Juan Pardo of the Golden Comanche Mardi Gras Indians (who was wearing an amazing parade costume adorned with beads and feathers).

With a driving beat from drummer Stanton Moore, Galactic’s tight grooves were a testament of their evolution as a band.

Funky Meters

As Galactic was doing their thing on one end of the fair grounds, Art Neville, George Porter (who co-founded parent group The Meters in 1967) and Brian Stoltz and Russell Batiste Jr., were at their funky best, offering up deep grooves that laid the groundwork for tight jams on top.

The original group was formed in 1989 by Neville and Porter, amongst others, as an impromptu Jazz Fest jam session.  Safe to say it was a good move.

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