There may be no better place than New Orleans to explore the ties of family and tradition in jazz. This episode of Jazz Night in America visits the Crescent City to hear two local musical giants: singer John Boutté and drummer Shannon Powell. The video documentary presents highlights from their shared concert at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center, while the radio episode also spends time with each of them at their homes, tracing their familial roots and exploring why they’ve chosen to stay local.
Powell was born and raised in Treme, one of the U.S.’s oldest black neighborhoods. He took us down the street to his church, where he grew up with a tambourine in one hand and a Bible in the other. For Powell, the church has always been a place where music and the Holy Spirit are one and the same.
Boutté, too, says he’s Treme to the bone; his large Creole-Catholic family goes back generations in New Orleans. He, like Powell, grew up playing music in the church. Though he went to college for business, he returned to his musical roots when he realized that the human voice was powerful enough to move people to tears of joy or pain.
Boutté and Powell capture the essence of this music and this city as only two natives can. Each man displays that particularly New Orleans sense of pride and swagger, rooted in the church and combined with a deep sense of family, musical and cultural history.
Shannon Powell (drums, vocals), John Boutté (vocals, tambourine), Roderick Paulin (soprano sax), Chris Severin (electric bass), Charlie Gabriel (tenor sax), Kyle Roussel (piano), Todd Duke (guitar), Loren Pickford (alto sax, flute), Mark McGrain (trombone), Christopher Kohl (clarinet), Wendell Brunious (trumpet), Herman LeBeaux (drums), Nobu Ozaki (bass).
Producers: Alex Ariff, Josie Holtzman, Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Consultants: Scott Aiges, Paul Maasen; Editors: Claire Collins, Nick Michael; Audio Supervisor: Suraya Mohamed; Production Assistant: Nikki Boliaux; Concert Audio Engineer: Damond Jacob; Concert Mix: David Tallacksen; Videographers: Alex Ariff, Josie Holtzman, Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Concert Production Manager: Jason Doyle; Host: Christian McBride; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundmann, Amy Niles; Special Thanks: Paul Siegel, WWNO, WWOZ, The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center; Funded in part by: The Argus Fund, Doris Duke Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Wyncote Foundation