Jazz Fest Minutes

Weekdays through May 3rd

Learn a lot about the top performers at this year’s Jazz Fest in just a little while, with a fresh set of WWNO’s multi-award-winning Jazz Fest Minutes. Join producer Fred Kasten for these 120-second profiles, and find out about the musical backgrounds, influences and inspirations (and even sample some of the music!) of a diverse cross-section of the artists performing at this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell. These twenty spots will cover them all, from multiple Grammy winners to those deserving wider recognition.

Catch Jazz Fest Minutes weekdays through May 3 right here on 89.9 WWNO — New Orleans Public Radio, at 7:59 a.m., during Morning Edition; at 1:04 p.m., just after the news from NPR; at 5:59 p.m., during All Things Considered; and anytime at all right here at WWNO.org!

Singer-songwriter Eric Lindell’s music has a soulful quality that is redolent of New Orleans. But he grew up in Sonoma County, California.

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Nicholas Payton is one brilliant musician. He plays just about everything on the bandstand very well. He’s best known for his trumpet work but is also a dynamic keyboard player, and even manages to play superbly on both at the same time.

In recent years Payton has added another tool to his kit: singing.

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The Show “One Mo’ Time” went from humble beginnings as a homemade New Orleans labor of love with a single scheduled performance to a worldwide theatrical sensation that ran for years. Its creator, New Orleans actor Vernel Bagneris, has loved the idea of putting on a show from way back.

“Cousins of mine still laugh at the fact that they used to come over and I’d put on a show for them and play a little accordion and single a little bit with the few chords I knew on a piano and do plays and make them all do parts,” Bagneris remembers.

Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis got a good lesson and lasting influence out of a teenage attempt to hornswoggle a new trombone from older brother Wynton. The lesson and the influence came in the form of a recording by trombone great J.J. Johnson.

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Saxophonist and Astral Project founder Tony Dagradi grew up in Summit, New Jersey. By high school he knew what he wanted to do: play jazz.

“It was almost as if I didn’t have a choice,” he says. “I didn’t think about, well, how much money am I going to make or how do I get a gig. I was just — all I wanted to do was play.”

After a couple of years at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Dagradi entered an intense period of jazz rehearsal and listening.

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Don Vappie grew up in New Orleans with a yen for music he just couldn’t explain.

“My earliest memory, it must have been second grade, I always wanted to be a musician,” Vappie says. “I have no idea why, but that’s what I wanted to do.”

Unless it was those records.

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National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri is a great pianist, composer and bandleader. However, in his early teens Palmieri developed a yen to play timbales in his piano-playing older brother’s band.

Elliott Hammer / Flickr

Great New Orleans jazz singer Germaine Bazzle’s formal music education began at the Xavier Junior School of Music under the tutelage of the accomplished and very demanding Sister Mary Latitia.

“She is the one, when you hear that little sound that I make, she is the one that demonstrated that to the orchestra when we were playing as she wanted something done,” Bazzle explained. “She wanted to show the trumpets or trombones, the brass people, how to do a certain thing. And when I started doing gigs I found myself doing that.”

Great New Orleans trumpeter and vocalist Gregg Stafford spent much of his childhood in the Central City neighborhood. He saw lots of parades, often sang in church, and developed a real love of music.

When it came time for high school, Stafford had the chance to join the school band — if his mother approved. So he told her, “I don’t have an elective at the moment, so the band instructor asked me, would I be interested in music? ‘Oh no, no, no, no; I don’t have no money to pay for no horn, so you can just scratch that,’” she told him.

Saxophonist Joshua Redman grew up in Berkeley, California, a very high achiever academically who turned to music for fun.

“I loved music, and I loved listening to it and I loved playing it, but I wasn’t serious about it. Music was kind of an escape, it was kind of a relief for me from the more rigorous aspects, the more studious aspects, of academics,” Redman says. “That was kind of how I let myself go and have fun.”

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