TOP OF THE HEAP
Iguanas are No. 1 on the list of '03's best local CDs
By Keith Spera - Music writer
Friday, January 2, 2004
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Each year brings more than a hundred new CDs from south Louisiana musicians, encompassing rock, modern and traditional jazz, Cajun and zydeco, gospel, funk, R&B and myriad other genres. Choosing the 20 best releases fis a highly subjective enterprise. Creativity, artistic growth, songwriting, production values and instrumental and vocal prowess all count, but not as much as the intangibles that leave a lasting impression. In the end, these are the albums that I returned to the most over the past year. Enjoy.
1. The Iguanas
Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart
Yep Roc Records
The Iguanas' 2002 concert recording "Live Iguanas" reiterated how potent the band's medley of sax-powered New Orleans rhythm & blues, traditional Spanish-language Tex-Mex romps and Americana rock 'n' roll is onstage. But the nearly flawless "Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart," the best album by any south Louisiana artist in 2003, reveals another, previously underplayed side of the band: that of an adventurous unit able to write, arrange and render a set of delicately evocative songs in the studio.
Rather than force danceable grooves, the band and producer Justin Niebank let the seductive material at hand dictate the album's tone. Guitarist, accordionist and vocalist Rod Hodges' songwriting, especially, achieves new levels of subtlety and sophistication. The disc's title track, co-written with former Blaster Dave Alvin and wrapped in the band's warm embrace, is Hodges' loving remembrance of the role radio -- the "plastic silver nine volt heart" of the title -- played in his life. The sweet "Sugar Cane," also by Hodges, uses curlicue guitars, an accordion and a metaphor straight out of southwest Louisiana: "Let the tear drops rise, let a river run through my eyes/I won't feel no pain, when she comes home with that sugar cane/Cause she's burning down the cane fields with her love." On Hodges' sumptuous "The First Kiss Is Free," guitar tones coalesce into figures that recall Chet Atkins by way of Mark Knopfler. Against drummer Doug Garrison's brushstrokes on the snare, guitar notes quiver, shimmer and bend on a track clearly meant for listening, not dancing.
But following hard on its heels is the rollicking "I Dig You," with the electric guitars fully amped once again. In the woozy, off-kilter "The Liquor Dance," vocalist/saxophonist Joe Cabral's voice is distorted and stressed by a studio filter, beaming in from a lost cantina. The twin tenor horns of Cabral and fellow saxophonist Derek Huston drive "Un Avion," one of the three songs sung in Spanish, but the minor-key arrangement tugs at the horns with an ominous undertow. In bassist Rene Coman's final "Goodbye Again," a sing-song organ and sprinkles of piano dress up a bittersweet midtempo meditation that is the perfect farewell kiss. A decade after their debut, The Iguanas' creative well is far from dry.
2. World Leader Pretend
Fit For Faded
World Leader Pretend frontman Keith Ferguson wrote much of what became "Fit For Faded" as a student at Houma's Vandebilt Catholic High School, before he even had a band. After enrolling at Loyola University, he finally joined forces with bassist and high school friend Parker Hutchinson and local drummer and theater veteran Arthur Mintz. They recorded "Fit For Faded" in an Uptown basement. After its initial independent release, Renaissance Records remastered and reissued the CD in 2003. It is an ambitious, exceptionally poised debut, the best local modern-rock release since the Pleasure Club's "Here Comes the Trick" two years ago. Dynamics and sonic signatures occasionally recall Radiohead circa "The Bends" and "OK Computer." Crisp acoustic guitar strumming is punctuated by jackhammer drums. Spacey keyboard chimes coexist with a vulnerable, inherently melancholy voice that arcs into falsetto range. In "A Small Thought," Ferguson essentially channels Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke. Radiohead-isms aside, "Fit For Faded" stands on its own -- and it hints at great potential. Accompanied by incendiary performances and extensive touring, the disc established World Leader Pretend as New Orleans' new modern-rock band of the moment.
3. Julia LaShae
Introducing . . . Julia LaShae
Julia LaShae is best known to local audiences as Johnny Angel's foil in the Swingin' Demons. Together, they square off on Louis Prima/Keely Smith duets and uptempo swing and jump blues from Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Peggy Lee. But on her debut as a solo artist, "Introducing . . . Julia LaShae," she and a sympathetic jazz combo revisit romantic standards from the classic American songbook: "Midnight Sun," "How High the Moon," the Gershwins' "Love Is Here to Stay" and "How Long Has This Been Going On," Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer's "I Thought About You," Jimmy McHugh's "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Warm, simple arrangements frame and complement LaShae's angelic voice on an intimate program that exudes sophistication and charm. Her precise phrasing, pure tone and sunny disposition make "Introducing . . . Julia LaShae" the vocal event of the year.
4. Deacon John
Deacon John's Jump Blues: Music From the Film
In a career spanning 40 years of rhythm & blues, rock, soul and blues, "Deacon" John Moore had never made a recording that adequately captured his skills as a vocalist, guitarist and bandleader, much less the sheer joy of his performances. Baton Rouge's Vetter Communications finally rectified that situation by financing the first-class "Deacon John's Jump Blues" project, which includes a CD and DVD so far, with a proposed documentary film to follow. Together, they examine the legacy of jump blues -- a synthesis of big band music and rhythm & blues that mutated into rock 'n' roll -- through the prism of Deacon John's life and career. The CD takes off with Ray Charles' "Jumpin' in the Morning" -- Moore "wooos" like Little Richard and Amadee Castenell's tenor sax honks like the legendary Red Tyler and Lee Allen at their finest -- and never looks back. A medley of "Hook, Line and Sinker" and "Go On Fool," two songs co-written by famed producer Dave Bartholomew and recorded by Smiley Lewis, illustrates the New Orleans jump blues connection. Throughout, jump blues is the jumping off point to celebrate related aspects of the classic New Orleans sound. Dr. John delivers a solo piano reading of Professor Longhair's "Tipitina." John Boutte sings lead on a remake of "Piece of My Heart," the Erma Franklin song that Janis Joplin later covered. The venerable Zion Harmonizers turn in an a cappella "Jesus Is On the Main Line." It is the ultimate New Orleans house party, with Deacon John as its ever-genial host.
5. New Leviathan Oriental Fox-trot Orchestra
Burning Sands: The New Leviathan Oriental Fox-trot Orchestra Goes To War
Perpetuation of the classic dance music of the first half of the 20th century is the New Leviathan Oriental Fox-trot Orchestra's reason for being, but its cheeky recruits address more contemporary themes on their vastly entertaining "Burning Sands." Consider these lines from the final cut, "That International Rag": "What did you do America, they're after you America/You got excited and you started something, nations jumping all around/You've got a lot to answer for, they lay the blame right at your door." Irving Berlin wrote those lyrics in 1919 about the spread of ragtime music, but they also work as a comment on current events. All of "Burning Sands" has a decidedly Arabian theme: Walter Doyle's 1931 "Egyptian Ella"; "Bells of Baghdad," an instrumental from 1919; "Rebecca Came Back From Mecca," dating to 1921; the 1915 fox-trot "Under the Mellow Arabian Moon." With tongues planted firmly in its collective cheek, the orchestra serves up these songs in a faux-retro radio broadcast from a fictitious submarine deep beneath the polar ice cap. George Schmidt is the broadcast's gleeful master of ceremonies and perpetrator of groan-inducing puns. Meanwhile, the orchestra's army of strings and horns dusts off a dozen chestnuts from the big band era. Each receives a spirited reading from musicians under the tutelage of archivist and producer Jack Stewart. A bravura performance.
6. Tab Benoit
The Sea Saint Sessions
Houma guitarist Tab Benoit specifically chose Allen Toussaint's former Sea-Saint Studios in Gentilly to record the aptly titled "The Sea Saint Sessions," the better to conjure the spirit of early New Orleans rhythm & blues. In recent years, Benoit has expanded on his early reputation as a hot-shot blues guitarist to explore a broader palette of south Louisiana sounds. Backed by his road band, drummer Darryl White and bassist Carl Dufrene, Benoit elicits the tasteful guitar tones of "Solid Simple Thing." He nails the vocal on the Eddie Jones ballad "Sufferin' Mind" alongside a tidy guitar solo done up in deep blue. Lest they forget their roots, Benoit and his band dig in for the slow-burn blues of "Darkness." His ever-widening circle of New Orleans collaborators includes guitarist Brian Stoltz, bassist George Porter Jr., Golden Eagles Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and percussionist Cyril Neville, all of whom guest on "The Sea Saint Sessions." Boudreaux's blues duet, "Monk's Blues," is a revelation; so, too, are Neville's playful riffs about a "honey-drippin' sugar daddy" in "Plareen Man." With their able assistance, Benoit continues to close the gap between Houma and New Orleans, as he delivers one of the year's best south Louisiana CDs.
7. Red Stick Ramblers
Bring It On Down
Memphis International Records
On their second release, the Red Stick Ramblers trot out Cajun tradition for a spin on the dance floor. But the Baton Rouge combo also picks up other, equally entertaining partners, including Western swing, bluegrass and 1920s-era jazz. The upright bass and Glenn Fields' in-the-pocket drums get a workout in the spry singalong "Stay All Night," with its especially joyous fiddle. Fiddler Joel Savoy -- the eldest son of noted Cajun musicians and folklorists Marc and Ann Savoy -- carries the French-language "Parting Waltz." "Two Step des Condamnes" is an accordion-heavy Cajun two-step with a cool guitar solo. The Ramblers settle down for the intimate regret of "What Do I Do?" and "Rattle My Cage," a mournful bluegrass meditation written and sung by guitarist Chas Justus and accented by a weeping fiddle. Clouds gather on the bittersweet country road song "When The Sugar Cane's Tall," but don't linger. Smiles come easily with the nimble picking on gypsy jazz great Django Reinhardt's "Blue Drag" and Western swing legend Bob Wills' uproarious "Bring It On Down to My House." One memorable line posits, "You made me sprain my ankle and I hurt my back, 'cause you're 10 pounds of sugar in a five pound sack." They may not have written it, but the Ramblers make it their own.
8. Terence Blanchard
Blue Note Records
To make the record he wanted, Terence Blanchard left his label. During his high-profile tenure on Sony Classical, the trumpeter released a succession of themed albums: Movie music, duets with jazz singers, Billie Holiday songs. Rather than come up with another concept, Blanchard opted to make a more straight-ahead record documenting his sextet, honed as it was by steady road work. Sony passed on the project, so Blanchard jumped to Blue Note Records. On "Bounce," his Blue Note debut, Blanchard and his sextet swing out on their own forward-thinking modern jazz arrangements. Highlights include Ivan Lins' "Nocturna," which Blanchard first recorded as a ballad on his album "The Heart Speaks"; here, it is reprised as a bossa nova. Blanchard wrote "Azania" years ago as a commentary on South Africa, then resurrected it as a showcase for the vocal abilities of the young guitarist in his band, Lionel Loueke, a native of the African nation Benin. The final track, "Bounce/Let's Go Off," combines "Bounce," a previously unnamed piece that Blanchard and company often toy with onstage, and Donald Harrison Jr.'s "Let's Go Off," which often served as Blanchard's theme music. Taken directly from the stage, these two pieces found a home on record -- the very premise of "Bounce."
9. Los Hombres Calientes
Vol. 4: Vodou Dance
Basin Street Records
If it worked once . . . Just as they did on their 2001 release "Vol. 3: New Congo Square," the members of Los Hombres Calientes recorded throughout the Caribbean to illustrate the ties binding the music of New Orleans to the rest of the African Diaspora. This time, percussionist Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, the Hombres' co-leaders, orchestrated field recordings in Haiti, Trinidad, Cuba and good ol' N.O. Traditional voice and percussion snippets are interspersed among more formal compositions on the sprawling, 27-track "Vodou Dance." The opening minute of "Latin Tinge" showcases Mayfield's polished horn. A suitably lounge-y reading of George Duke's "Brazilian Sugar" eases along with help from jazz singer Phillip Manuel and Aaron Fletcher's soprano saxophone, two of many guests on the ambitious project. The ensemble channels early Neville Brothers on "Wild Tchoupitoulas," with an assist from the Wild Magnolias' Bo Dollis and bassist George Porter Jr. Cyril Neville guides Summers' reggae protest anthem "Ghetto Get Up." The authoritative Rev. Eddie Payne leads the voice-and-tambourine gospel romp "I'll Fly Away." Steel drums give "Trinidad Nocturne" a dreamy undercurrent. Ricky Sebastian, now ensconced as the Hombres' primary drummer, easily navigates the smorgasbord of rhythms. No other "local" act is so global.
10. Tim Laughlin
The Isle of Orleans
Tim Laughlin's sweet clarinet tone did not spring forth of its own volition; he is inextricably linked to a lineage that includes Irving Fazola and Pete Fountain. But what makes Laughlin one of the most important jazz clarinetists working today is his aversion to the shopworn melodies of standards. He believes that fresh compositions are essential to sustaining traditional jazz as a vibrant art form rather than a museum piece trotted out for tourists. "The Isle of Orleans" added another dozen new songs to the jazz canon, from the strut of the cleverly titled "Suburban Street Parade" to the long, deep blue opening notes of "Blues For Faz" and the title track, with its distinctly New Orleans Spanish tinge. A litany of accomplished players joins him in the effort, including cornetist Connie Jones, drummer Hal Smith, sousaphonist Matt Perrine, trombonists Rick Trolsen and Lucien Barbarin, pianists Tom McDermott and John Royen, guitarist John Eubanks, banjoists Frankie Lynne and Neil Unterseher, guest vibraphonist Jason Marsalis and vocalist Phillip Manuel. Together, they stand at the vanguard of traditional jazz.
11. Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
Accordionist/vocalist Steve Riley, fiddler David Greely and the other Playboys have never subscribed to Cajun orthodoxy, preferring to let the music guide them where it may. On "Bon Reve," they revisit a set of Cajun classics by the likes of Belton Richard, the Touchet Brothers, Amedee Ardoin, Denis McGee, Lawrence Walker and Aldus Roger, but reanimate them with their own improvisations and instincts. The result is a powerful statement on the vitality of the genre. The addition of guitarist Sam Broussard to the Playboys' line-up pays off big-time throughout "Bon Reve." His tumbling riffs on the opening "Maline" -- written by Riley, Greely and Jean Arceneaux, it is as irresistibly joyous a track as has appeared on any Cajun release in recent memory -- and elsewhere introduce a Nashville twang to the band's southwest Louisiana pedigree. That twang is even more pronounced in the Belton Richard swamp pop ballad "Jamais une autre chance (Never Another Chance)." Broussard also handles the lead vocal on the title track, which he wrote; the arrangement, with its harmonizing fiddles and big bass, is another delight on an album brimming with such moments.
"Ruckus" is the first release in the rest of Galactic's career. Recorded in the band's own Warehouse District workshop, it represents a shift away from funky jams of the past -- instrumental solos and wah-wah guitar are nowhere to be found -- toward more structured arrangements. Noted techno and hip-hop producer Dan "the Automator" Nakamura sketched a contemporary, sometimes Spartan sonic palette with a future-shock glow. Ben Ellman's harmonica stands alone in "Bongo Joe," as weird vocal snippets flash over an acoustic guitar and drum loop. An old-school Galactic funk-soul groove in "The Moil" breaks down into something more ominous. Theryl de'Clouet, Galactic's resident soul singer, looms much larger on "Ruckus." In "Gypsy Fade," he testifies over a Stevie Wonder-style harmonica and an unflappable Stanton Moore rhythm. The after-hours lounge chic and compressed vocals in "Paint" beam in from some other dimension. The trance-inducing "Mercamon" is built on a drum loop and spliced with sound effects and manipulated instruments, including Rich Vogel's Moog synthesizer. The singsong "Uptown Odyssey" and a remake of General Public's 1980s pop hit "Tenderness" provide the disc's warmest moments and hint that Galactic's experimenting has just begun.
13. Panorama Jazz Band
Another Hot Night In February
The sly title of the Panorama Jazz Band's debut, "Another Hot Night in February," says much about the take-it-as-it-comes New Orleans gestalt, just as the music says much about the city's melting-pot culture. Traditional New Orleans jazz, Jewish klezmer music, the Creole music of Martinique, the folk music of Europe's Balkan region and the occasional polka, all traditional styles suited for dancing, turn up in the mix. On the opening "Camelia," Panorama founder Ben Schenck's clarinet is joined first by trombone, then banjo, accordion, bass and percussion, each articulate on its own and perfectly in sync with the others. Patrick Farrell's accordion lends Jelly Roll Morton's "Milneburg Joys" a klezmer tinge. Schenck's clarinet "laughs" atop Patrick Mackey's banjo in "Balcon Fleuri." The ensemble is in full klezmer mode as it romps through "Di Mame Iz Gegangen" and "Terkishe Yale V'Yove Tantz." The players gleefully shift tempos throughout "Baym Rebn in Palestina," racing to a fast finish. Genevieve Duval's trombone sets the tone for the languorous "Really the Blues," but humor and joy are the overriding themes.
14. Dr. John
All By Hisself: Live at the Lonestar
Skinji Brim/Hyena Records
You can do much worse than Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack alone at a piano. The 60 minutes of "All By Hisself" are culled from two solo gigs in New York in December 1986. Such a setting fosters a fresh appreciation for Dr. John's skills as an interpreter of New Orleans piano tradition. He gets down to business with a rollicking "Swanee River Boogie," then fires off one piano volley after another on "Sick and Tired." A long intro and coda bookend a seven-minute, saloon-style "Such A Night." A hip "Right Place Wrong Time" features a funky left-hand bass line underpinning right-hand soloing. A medley drawn mostly from Huey "Piano" Smith is distilled in Rebennack's own style. A bonus DVD features a 22-minute interview in which Dr. John discusses his influences and illustrates them with brief piano sketches. "All By Hisself" is the first in the proposed "Rebennack Chronicles" series drawn from Dr. John's personal archives of live recordings. If subsequent releases are as entertaining as this one, Dr. John will be a staple on best-of lists for years to come.
15. Papa Grows Funk
Papa Grows Funk's 2001 debut "Doin It" served up airtight arrangements on a program of original Big Easy funk. The group's second CD, "Shakin'," delivers more of the same. "House of Love" is keyboardist "Papa" John Gros' finest songwriting effort to date, as well as his finest vocal performance; his unaffected, unfettered singing recalls Eric Clapton. Russell Batiste's kick drum is massive, as usual. Marc Pero and Peter V alternately fill out the bottom end on bass. Guitarist June Yamagishi channels the Meters' Leo Nocentelli on the title track, cuts loose with a wah-wah pedal on the Batiste composition "Say B'uh (I Jus' Playin')" and colors in different shades throughout. Saxophonist Jason Mingledorff lays smooth tenor lines over the midtempo opener "Mutha Funk Ya'll" and the final "Big Wind." An expanded cast of friends forms the street chorus on "Soul Second Line," as Papa Grows Funk cultivates some of the tightest funk in town.
16. Aaron Neville
Nature Boy: The Standards Album
His is the proverbial voice that could make the phone book sound heavenly. For "Nature Boy," Aaron Neville found material considerably more flattering: A set of classic pop and jazz standards, rendered with a first-call jazz quintet and the backing of an orchestra that is only occasionally too sweet. A sneaky guitar lick, percussion and piano usher in a cool remake of the Gershwins' "Summertime." "The Very Thought of You" is yet another successful pairing of Neville and Linda Ronstadt, with additional illumination from Roy Hargrove's flugelhorn. Neville downright swings on "Who Will Buy?" as he slips in a bout of scatting. "The Shadow of Your Smile" is fitted with a bossa nova undercarriage. Ron Carter's bass anchors Cole Porter's "In the Still of the Night." Melancholy looms in the title track, but is quickly dispersed by the inherent warmth in Neville's delivery. In 2003, he also released a strong album of spiritual music, "Believe," which, like "Nature Boy," earned a Grammy nomination. Here's hoping we finally hear his long-rumored doo-wop album in '04.
17. Various artists
Straight from the 6th Ward
"Straight From the 6th Ward," the first release from a reactivated Tipitina's Records, takes a snapshot of the contemporary New Orleans brass band scene. The Lil' Rascals Brass Band kicks it off with "H.I.T.," a singalong built on a foundation of tuba, snare, bass drums and surging horns. The Rebirth Brass Band, still considered the leader of the "new" school of contemporary brass after 20 years, steps up the pace with "Feel Like Funkin' It Up (Part II)." The 6th Ward Allstars -- members of Rebirth and the Lil' Rascals augmented by trumpeter/vocalist Kermit Ruffins and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews -- host a party with "Get It How You Live." The veteran Treme Brass Band holds its own alongside the youngsters with the more traditional "Wolverine Blues," marked by a banjo and "Uncle" Lionel Batiste's bass drum. The New Birth Brass Band fires up "Project Love" and "Show Me How Ya Do That Dance." A Treme street party translated to disc.
18. Sonny Landreth
The Road We're On
Sugar Hill Records
On his eighth album, "The Road We're On," southwest Louisiana guitarist Sonny Landreth further refines his unique slide guitar technique -- he frets chords behind the slide to conjure a range of exotic sounds; notes seem to quiver and melt away. Recorded last year in downtown Lafayette with longtime bassist Dave Ranson and drummers Brian Brignac and Mike Burch, "The Road We're On" was intended to be Landreth's "back to blues basics" album. But the finished work's most obvious nod to the blues is the straightforward way it was recorded -- mostly live, with less of the studio tinkering for which Landreth is known. The result is another showcase for one of contemporary Louisiana music's most gifted instrumentalists.
19. Rockie Charles
Have You Seen My Uncle Steve
Rockie Charles, the self-proclaimed "president of soul," released a handful of singles in the 1960s, then focused his energies on a more dependable career as a tugboat captain. "Have You Seen My Uncle Steve" continues a comeback launched in 1997. Charles wrote all 12 cuts; like Earl King, he peppers his songwriting with idiosyncrasies. Throughout, his spidery guitar lines are complemented by surging horns and organ riffs. "Things Won't Be the Same" is a model of soul economy, with drums and a clipped guitar riff serving as a foundation for Charles' falsetto; later, the horns ease in. "Prove Your Love For Me" is spiked by a boogie-woogie piano that circles another great guitar part. "She's a Party Time Lover" opens with a Chuck Berry riff, then immediately shifts into R&B boogie-woogie mode. "Please Give Me Back My Heart" comes across like a long-lost high school slow-dance favorite from the 1950s. With a showman's flair for dramatic storytelling, Charles is well-equipped for a second career in old-school soul.
20. Mexico 1910
Sharpen Your Crutches
Mexico 1910 hovers on the creative fringe of the local rock scene. Guitarists/bassists Brian Antonak, Miles Britton and Ashley Fain and drummer David Jeffries sculpt multitiered instrumentals with meticulous care and intriguing results. The four songs on their "Sharpen Your Crutches" EP, clocking in at a grand total of 24 minutes, took nearly a year to create. "Sadly We May Have to Count This One" opens with overlaid chiming guitars that give way to buzz-saw chords, building intensity; the squeaks of the guitarists' fingers on the strings are audible. In the title track, plucked and bent notes build tension, with the thick bass lines a counterpoint to the guitar tapestry. After multiple climaxes, the guitars and bass fall away, leaving only Jeffries' percussion; just as quickly, the ensemble heaves to life again. "Magdalene" is marked by robust bass lines and multiple tempo shifts. Jeffries conducts a clinic with multiple rhythms in "Six Billion Potential Messiahs." The guitar pickin' recalls Texas shaman Eric Johnson in space-cowboy mode. The song's final din of ecstasy cuts off suddenly, leaving a listener wanting more.
Another 25 noteworthy releases of 2003:
Joe Barry - Been Down That Muddy Road
Night Train Records
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles - Mr. Stranger Man
The Bluebirds - Highway 80 East
Louisiana Red Hot Records
Various Artisits - Boozoo Hoodoo!: The Songs of Boozoo Chavis
Fuel 2000 Records
Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band - Ain't No Party Like a Chubby Party
Harry Connick Jr. - Harry For the Holidays
Harry Connick Jr. - Other Hours: Connick on Piano 1
Marsalis Music/Rounder Records
Cowboy Mouth - Uh-Oh
33rd Street Records
Fats Domino - The Legends of New Orleans: Fats Domino Live From the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2001
David Egan - Twenty Years of Trouble
Louisiana Red Hot Records
Roland Guerin - Groove, Swing & Harmony
Imagination Movers - Good Ideas
John Boutte & Uptown Okra - Carry Me Home
Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes - Bandicoot
Chris Thomas King - The Soul of Chris Thomas King: The Roots
21st Century Blues
Rosie Ledet - Now's the Time
Maison de Soul
Marsalis Family - A Jazz Celebration
Irvin Mayfield/Gordon Parks - Half Past Autumn Suite
Basin Street Records
New Orleans Klezmer Allstars - Borvis
Nicholas Payton - Sonic Trance
Warner Bros. Records
Pleasure Club - Here Comes the Trick/Live! Out of the Pulpit
Quintron - Are You Ready For An Organ Solo
Three One G Records
Supagroup - Supagroup
Mike West - The Man Who Could Fall Backwards
Woodenhead - Perseverance
Free Electric Sound