Currently, there is no Wikipedia listing for Naughty Professor (not the band, anyway), so here is a suggestion:
“Naughty Professor is a New Orleans-based sextet of young musicians in the present respecting the jazz traditions of the past while playing the music of the future.”
The Naughty Professor boys just completed another Florida swing that found them at the Dunedin Spring Beer Jam, all up and down the Florida peninsula, and on Sunday night (March 29th) at the New World Brewery in Ybor City. They were matched up with the Brand New Opiates, swamp rockers from Tampa. That might sound unusual, but in reality it was a perfect pairing, thanks to Brokenmold Entertainment.
The crowd was sparse but boisterous, and the young men from Louisiana picked up on that vibe immediately. They slammed into “Biz” and “Prune Juice,” both new tunes. In fact, ten of the 14 songs in the set do not appear on The EP or their 2013 CD Until the New Time. The New Orleans release of their brand new album, Out on a Limb (on ropeadope) is Friday, April 10th, at One Eyed Jacks. Worldwide release will be May 12th.
They are nearly in a class by themselves. For three points of reference, consider Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Snarky Puppy. In fact, the sound – aural presentation – that Naughty Professor produces is very reminiscent of Snarky Puppy. Magnificent syncopated horns in perfect unison with incredible punch to the delivery.
That punch comes from a back line you might forget, because the three horns are so great, but… the horns show ultimate respect to the back line or whoever is soloing by walking off stage. It is a brilliant, time-honored tradition that keeps Naughty Professor with one foot (OK, six feet) squarely in the past and the other foot (six, whatever) stepping into the future.
Drummer Sam Shahin is a great showman, and he blows you away with technique and enthusiasm. By contrast, you might at first not notice Noah Young on bass, until you realize he is blowing it up in lockstep with Shahin. Bill Daniels plays a world of guitar, from the giants such as Grant Green to dynamite fusion.
Trumpeter John Culbreath looks so young he probably has to show two IDs at the bar, and yet he plays with New Orleans power and grace and tradition. His solos were sheer beauty. Nick Ellman gave his alto saxophone and his baritone about equal time, coaxing great music from each. And tenor sax player Ian Bowman took several lovely solos and then turned around and melted faces with blistering volleys of sound.
The house was full of local musicians who understand exactly what Naughty Professor brings every time they hit the stage. The previous day, NP had played at Universal at 5:30 and then drove to Pi on Broadway in Ocala and played again! It would have been easy on this slow Sunday night to take it easy, coast in. Not a chance with this band. They started at 100 miles per hour and hit full throttle. RESPECT.
Speaking of respect, there is currently no better cheerleader and friend to the bands than Josh Formanek, who played guitar until recently with Infinite Groove Orchestra. Formanek is exploring some other music avenues he has been anxious to try, but you can find him front and center at many of the jazz and funk shows, smile a mile wide, encouraging and promoting and just “being there” (look for the hat!). Now that’s RESPECT.
The night got off to a great swampy, funk start with the Brand New Opiates. They impressed in a recent performance at ZenFest, but by comparison this show was on steroids. Lots of ‘em. It was a magnetic performance from start to finish, with heads nodding and people dancing all over.
Lou Collazo is an engaging frontman, singing, dancing, gyrating, playing guitar. He reminds you of Tom Waits when Waits could actually sing, but Collazo has more depth, more grit, more growl. His voice is perfect for the music that BNO plays. They call it swamp blues, gypsy music. They segued from “Creole Woman” into “Wasting Cowboys!”
Every 45 minutes or so, somebody on the interwebs wants people to list their “ten greatest guitar players.” What a croc! First, listening is subjective. More importantly, there are simply thousands and thousands of terrific guitar slingers out there of every stripe. You’ll never .01% of them. Lists are meaningless.
Case in point, Naughty Professor’s Bill Daniels and George Toledo from BNO. Both had great, great sets. Toledo’s stinging leads match the music perfectly, especially if you are playing songs such as “Regards from Hell” and “Devil on the Loose.” And Matt Salvador’s percussion work on traps puts a perfect point on the music.
Collazo explained that he was looking for a bass player when he got a two-for-one deal: Joe Grady on bass and Melissa Grady on violin. Joe is a monster. John Shea of Infinite Groove Orchestra said that Joe is his favorite local bassist, and that is saying volumes. The surprise addition is Melissa’s violin, however. You can’t really have a swampy gypsy band without a violin, can you?
At ZenFest, Melissa played more in the background and was effective but not front and center. She KILLED it Sunday night, a great addition to every song. Is that an organ somewhere? Nope, it’s Melissa! Is somebody playing saxophone? See previous answer! She confessed she was much more comfortable with her rig (there are no simple set-ups any more).
It’s always a blessing when you are privileged to hear a great band perform. TWO great bands? Is that a double blessing? Blessing squared?
And please do NOT take for granted the excellent sound from NWB house engineer Joey Going.
Great to see Josh and Dominique, Jordan and Kelli-Ann, Jon and Josh.
[BNO SET: Red River Gospel, Orchids, Creole Woman, Wasting Cowboys, Regards from Hell, Millie, Old Jim, Devil on the Loose]
[NP SET: Biz, Prune Juice, Glass, Brain Storm, Contract, Coalmine 69, 7th-Inning Stretch, Chef’s Revenge, Trooper of Storms, Farewell, Norman, Limb, Elbow Soul, Chef’s Special]
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