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MJF67, Sept. 27-29, 2024


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New Orleans Groove Masters feat. Herlin Riley, Jason Marsalis and Shannon Powell
  • Grounds Artist
  • Friday, September 27 10:00 pm - 11:00 pm West End Stage Presented by Castoro Cellars

The New Orleans Groove Masters were created in 2017 for a concert for a performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The concert was a great success and with this enthusiasm a band was born. This band features three master drummers performing on percussion, tambourine, vibraphones, and vocals accompanied by piano, bass, and saxophone.

This is an exciting percussion led ensemble, steeped in the traditional drumming and contemporary stylings of New Orleans music. The materials are a collection of original compositions and repertoire from the musical canon of the Crescent City.

Since coming of age in the nurturing environment of a very musical family and a distinguished bloodline of drummers, New Orleans native Herlin Riley emerged from that most creative era of all things rhythmic in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, to enliven the ensembles of such influential and demanding improvisers as pianist Ahmad Jamal and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis through his commanding yet elegant rhythmic presence.

His authoritative style of melodic percussion is deeply imbued in the fertile creative soil of the Crescent City, encompassing as it does the entire length and breadth of America’s ongoing musical journey.  He is widely considered one of the great New Orleans drummers in jazz history and has been given the moniker of Groove Master by Wynton Marsalis.

As a band leader he has released four recordings, these include: Watch What You're Doing (Criss Cross, 2000); Cream of the Crescent (Criss Cross, 2005); New Direction (Mack Avenue, 2016); Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue, 2019).

Of his playing style, Herlin states: “The essence of jazz music to me is that it is free, but it has form. So, our music is modern, and it’s progressive, but we’re trying to engage people as well. I do love to groove; that is a big part of who I am and is an expression of where I would like to take my music.”

Shannon Powell is a highly respected drummer and percussionist who has achieved international acclaim for his commanding technique and style. In his early career, Powell toured extensively with Harry Connick, Jr. and released two platinum albums with Connick including We Are in Love, and Blue Light Red Light. He also recorded Lofty’s Roach Souffle with Connick, and during subsequent years, Powell has toured with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marcus Roberts, Diana Krall, Dr. John, Earl King, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and John Scofield. Powell has also recorded with a long list of noteworthy artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Currently, Powell is a bandleader and has recorded his own CD, Powell's Place, which showcases a mix of traditional and original jazz songs and also features Powell on vocals. Powell is considered a leading force on the traditional jazz circuit and also serves as an educator and clinician. He has been featured at workshops presented at universities and jazz festivals all over the world. Considered a living legend in New Orleans music, Shannon Powell is heralded as "The King of Tremé," the neighborhood where he grew up in New Orleans, which has given birth to countless musical inspirations and innovations.

NEA Jazz Master Jason Marsalis is the son of pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis and his wife Dolores, and the youngest sibling of Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. Together, the four brothers and their patriarch Ellis, comprise New Orleans venerable first family of jazz.

He is a graduate of New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts High School, and Loyola University in New Orleans, and has been a featured musician with a bevy of acclaimed artists including Lionel Hampton, Joe Henderson, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Los Hombres Calientes, and Dr. Michael White.

In 2013, Jason released a recording as a leader on vibes entitled In a World of Mallets. The album went to number 1 on the CMJ Radio Charts and also won an Offbeat Magazine award, a New Orleans music magazine, for best Contemporary Jazz Album.

With each passing year Jason Marsalis continues to grow and develop as both a composer and performer. The maturity and command he has over his music is evident to those who have heard or seen him.