Live music in New Orleans this week includes a legendary piano-playing songwriter, a Cuban hip-hop ensemble and a cello duet.

Telmary y Habana Sana

9 p.m. Thursday, New Orleans Jazz Market (1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.), $16 advance, $22 at the door

Telmary Diaz and her band, Habana Sana, are at the vanguard of Cuba’s hip-hop and urban music movements. Fusing traditional and contemporary rhythms with a medley of musical styles, they come across like a Cuban version of the Roots with an empowering, socially conscious message to match. Diaz ranges from poetry slam monologues to jazzy crooning. She laid down a Spanish-language rap and dancehall-style spoken word on “Tight Like This,” a track from Dr. John’s 2014 Louis Armstrong tribute album “Ske-Dat-De-Dat.” More recently, Telmary y Habana Sana ignited the Cuba Pavilion at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Their show Thursday at the New Orleans Jazz Market is presented by the CubaNOLA Arts Collective. The Jazz Market will also be televising the Saints-Falcons game.

Leyla McCalla and Helen Gillet

8 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, George & Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center (1225 N. Rampart St.), free.

Leyla McCalla and Helen Gillet are cellists with very different backgrounds who have both flourished artistically since arriving in New Orleans. McCalla, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, was born in New York. She studied cello performance and chamber music at New York University, then moved to New Orleans to busk on the streets. She spent time in renowned string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops but left to focus on her solo career. Gillet is a native of Belgium whose musical influences range from French chansons to North Indian vocal ragas to free-jazz improvisations. Since landing in New Orleans in 2012, Gillet has collaborated across the spectrum of local music; she often performs solo, using pedals and loops to build a multi-layered sound. McCalla and Gillet have shared stages as part of larger ensembles, but this will be their first performance as a duo. They’ll alternate songs and also perform together. Admission is free.

Dragon Smoke

10 p.m. Saturday, Tipitina’s, $18

A "super-jam" during the 2003 New Orleans Jazz Fest at the Dragon's Den gave birth to the New Orleans all-star quartet Dragon Smoke. The permanent line-up consists of drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio, of Galactic; singer/keyboardist Ivan Neville, of Dumpstaphunk; and singer/guitarist Eric Lindell. With Moore and Mercurio laying down the groove, Neville and Lindell riff over the top and trade lead vocals, ranging from funk/R&B to blue-eyed soul. Given the members’ commitments to their “main” bands, Dragon Smoke performs only occasionally. They’ll assemble for a rare non-Jazz Fest hometown appearance at Tipitina’s on Saturday. Porch 40 opens the show.

Randy Newman

7 p.m. Tuesday, Orpheum Theater, $44-$129.50

Randall Stuart Newman spent part of his childhood in New Orleans but came to fame as the bard of Los Angeles. As Randy Newman, he has over the past 50 years amassed a deep catalog of piano meditations, addressing the absurdities of human existence with wry wit and sly humor. His 2017 album “Dark Matter” is his first collection of original compositions that aren’t part of a film score in nearly a decade. On it, he shifts from “Putin,” a typically sharp and absurdist take-down of a certain Russian leader, to “She Chose Me,” an unapologetically sweet ode to love. Newman’s show Tuesday at the Orpheum Theater is his first New Orleans appearance since the death of Fats Domino, of whom he was a devoted fan.



West Texas native Quiana Lynell honed her multi-octave range as a vocal performance major at Louisiana State University. She’s since fronted a jazz ensemble at Jazz Fest and served as the lead soprano with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. Hear her at Snug Harbor.

Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue kick up their boot-heels at Chickie Wah Wah.


The Soul Rebels are joined by rappers Talib Kweli and Curren$y, plus pianist Robert Glasper, at the Joy Theater.

At 8 p.m. at Chickie Wah Wah, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show showcases the songs of John Lennon; stick around for a 10:30 p.m. set by the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars featuring Glenn Hartman, Stanton Moore, Ben Ellman and Jonathan Freilich.


Long-running local modern jazz ensemble Astral Project lands at Snug Harbor.

Guitarist/singer Webb Wilder plugs in at Chickie Wah Wah at 8 p.m.


Pokey Lafarge headlines Tipitina’s, on a bill with Esther Rose and the Easy Leaves; show time is 7 p.m.

Galactic drummer Stanton Moore’s jazz trio makes a rare Sunday night appearance at Snug Harbor (they’re back again on Tuesday).


The House of Blues’ Foundation Room hosts the year’s final installment of the Songwriter Sessions, a songwriters’ showcase featuring Jim McCormick, Marc Stone, Mark Farmer and Bon Bon Vivant’s Abigail Cosio. The show starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free.


Gary Numan, the pioneering British New Wave artist whose 1979 album “The Pleasure Principle” yielded the hit “Cars,” visits the House of Blues.

Follow Keith Spera on Twitter, @KeithSpera.

Keith Spera writes about music, culture and his kids.