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Posts Tagged ‘Neville Brothers’

“TAKE ME TO THE RIVER: NEW ORLEANS”  My rating: B+ (In  theaters)

115 minutes | No MPAA rating

I cannot even count how many times during “Take Me to the River: New Orleans” I found myself literally bawling with pleasure.

Martin Shore’s documentary love letter to Big Easy musicians (it’s a followup to 2014’s “Take Me to the River,” which probed the Memphis sound) may not be encyclopedic (no one movie could hope to encompass the width and breadth of New Orleans’ musical heritage), but it’s pretty damn staggering nonetheless.

I mean, any film that can enthusiastically embrace Irma Thomas, Snoop Dogg, the Neville Brothers, Ani DiFranco and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (for starters) has got a hell of a reach.

Shore’s approach is simple.  He sets up recording sessions featuring the city’s players — everyone from superstars to working stiffs and even high school students — and lets their creativity run wild. He also revels in pairing music’s elder statesmen with their up-and-coming young counterparts. The results are sublime.

Thus we get blues dowager empress Irma Thomas duetting with Ledisi on “I Wish Someone Would Care.”  The late Dr. John (in one of his last filmed performances) teams with Davell Crawford for “Jock-A-Mo.”  Aaron Neville and the Dirty Dozen Jazz Band rip the place up with the stomping “Street Parade.”  Snoop, G-Eazy and William Bell collaborate on a rap/blues reinterpretation of the classic “Yes We Can Can” (I’ve never cared much for rap, but this number blew me away).

In all there are two dozen performances on display. Not a ringer in the bunch.

And between those there are documentary digressions about the city’s Indian tribes (like the legendary Wild Tchoupitoulas), Preservation Hall,, the second line tradition, the late Allen Touissaint and the continuing fallout from Hurricane Katrina, which displaced scores of musicians, many of whom have been unable to return to Orleans.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

| Robert W. Butler

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