1:35 p.m.-2:35 p.m.
Fais Do-Do Stage
It's often noted that this forward-thinking, Grammy-nominated Cajun ensemble has mostly female membership. While there's a feminine aesthetic at work in details like the six-piece's lilting vocal harmonies, what's more compelling is the way the group is using Cajun music traditions as a springboard for its own ensemble-focused, highly lyrical sound. Kristi Guillory is a folklorist who specializes in the culture of Acadiana, but she's also an accordion prodigy and a poetic songwriter. The English translations of lyrics from the band's 2017 album L'Aurore are filled with gorgeous images and raw emotion. Guitarist Christine Balfa, the daughter of the late Cajun music revivalist Dewey Balfa, is the founder of Louisiana Folks Roots, a Lafayette-based nonprofit that produces educational and performance-related events aimed at sustaining the state's Cajun and Creole heritage. Along with fiddler Anya Burgess, guitarist Maegan Berard, bassist Ashley Hayes and drummer Daniel Devillier, the group's live shows can lure listeners into a dreamy, pop-inflected soundscape one moment and make them feel like they're waltzing at an old-school Mamou dancehall the next.
Tatiana Eva-Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band
1:50 p.m.-2:50 p.m.
Cultural Pavilion Stage
4:20 p.m.-5:20 p.m.
The soft tones and playful energy vocalist Tatiana Eva-Marie employs while tackling the hot jazz styles of the 1930s and 1940s has earned her plenty of accolades both nationally and in her adopted hometown of New York City, where the Avalon Jazz Band is becoming a staple of a thriving gypsy jazz scene. The band's clever arrangements and collectively strong chops currently are being funneled into a Paris-themed follow-up to its debut album Je Suis Swing, which features two lesser-known songs about Paris. The
group also has two festival performances Friday.
Telmary y Habana Sana
1:55 p.m.-3:05 p.m.
One of the most-talked about artists at last year's festival was Havana, Cuba-born singer, rapper and spoken word artist Telmary Diaz, whose performances with her band Habana Sana featured modern and wildly evocative combinations of virtually every rhythm-centric genre associated with her native Cuba, spiked with heavy doses of soulful hip-hop and rock undercurrents. Given New Orleans' often-cited "northernmost point in the Caribbean" status, it's perhaps no surprise that she's also performed the music of Louis Armstrong with Dr. John. Once an aspiring journalist, Diaz's messages tend to be conscious and empowered — whether or not she's singing in English.
The Walls Group
3:55 p.m.-4:55 p.m.
Counting Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia among their best-known superfans, Houston-based siblings Darrel, Rhea, Alic (aka Paco) and Ahjah Walls have scored consistent gospel chart-topping hits since they were first signed to Kirk Franklin's Fo Yo Soul Recordings imprint shortly after he founded it in 2013. While their recorded sound draws heavily on contemporary R&B, including a high-gloss studio sound, the Walls' powerful individual voices really shine when they perform acoustically. With any luck, this set will include both.
4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m.
WWOZ Jazz Tent
Terrace Martin went from being a jazz prodigy to producing records for artists including Kendrick Lamar on the landmark To Pimp a Butterfly to fusing his own blend of jazz, funk, hip-hop and R&B. He is the son of jazz musicians — his father is a drummer, his mother a vocalist — and he learned to play keyboards and saxophone while growing up. As a producer, he's worked with Snoop Dogg, Charlie Wilson and many others. The multi-instrumentalist straddles hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz on his own recordings. His 2016 album Velvet Portraits features Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway and other guests and was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B album. He followed up in 2017 with another funky, grooving mashup of genres, Sounds of Crenshaw, Vol. 1.
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Lionel Richie's been a familiar face offstage during his stint as a judge on Season 16 of American Idol. But his Jazz Fest performances have shown he hasn't skipped a beat. In 2006, he filled in when Fats Domino canceled his appearance, and in 2010, he offered just the right balance of soulful Commodores nostalgia and throwbacks to his "All Night Long" '80s material.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
5:40 p.m.-7 p.m.
Part singer-songwriter and composer, part humorous storyteller, Lyle Lovett has a smooth-toned voice and mellow, often deadpan delivery that has subtly heightened the left-of-center vibe characterizing most of his musical narratives since the early '80s. His dry wit shines through in songs like his twangy ode to misplaced sentimentality, "I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You," putting a unique spin on what he's acknowledged is not quite country, not quite jazz and not quite rock. He obviously enjoys wordplay. His "large band" is not quite "big," hence the name of his album It's Not Big, It's Large. With music that ranges from lush orchestrations to spare guitar melodies, the proud Houston native makes room for dark love stories whose meaning sneaks up on listeners.
Toots and the Maytals
5:40 p.m.-7 p.m.
Congo Square Stage
Toots Hibbert and his band, which has undergone a number of lineup changes, long have been credited with helping to create the sound that pushed his and other ska and rocksteady bands of the 1960s toward what became known as reggae. The genre's name is said to have been coined by the Maytals' "Do the Reggay." Now in his mid-70s, Hibbert continues to tour and record, showcasing his still-strong voice on songs plucked from his decades-spanning catalog. Recently, he collaborated with his grandson, rapper King Trevy, on the single "Ten Shillings."
Archie Shepp Quartet
5:45 p.m.-7 p.m.
WWOZ Jazz Tent
In the liner notes to I Hear the Sound, saxophonist Archie Shepp's first live orchestral recording of his landmark 1972 album Attica Blues, he writes that "not much has changed" since he composed the music as a response to the deadly, racially charged prison riots at New York's Attica Correctional Facility. The new album was recorded months after Trayvon Martin was killed, and as artists across the country continue grappling with issues around race and police brutality in 2018, the music seems more charged than ever. Now 80, Shepp — whose work with John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor in the early 1960s laid the groundwork for his long and distinguished career as a bandleader — is uniquely positioned to comment on race relations in America through music. His foundational contributions to free jazz often invoked pan-African cultural references alongside liberal uses of soul, funk and blues. He also was a music educator for many decades, focusing on ethnomusicology via the "Revolutionary Concepts in African-American Music" and "Black Musician in the Theater" courses he taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst prior to his retirement from teaching. Shepp was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2016, and he retains plenty of the fire and sharp, improvisational creativity in live performances. Given Taylor's recent passing and the feisty, spiritual nature of Shepp's sound, it would be no surprise if he includes a tribute to the late pianist in this set.
Blind Boys of Alabama
5:45 p.m.-7 p.m.
The bluesy gospel sound of this pioneering vocal quintet dates back to 1939, when Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, the surviving original members, performed together in the chorus at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind. They went on to become one of the most prominent and long-running acts in the country, consistently praised for their devotion to the traditional sound that first inspired them. With dozens of recordings and a handful of Grammy Awards under its belt, the group is set to release a new album of songs written for them and inspired by video interviews with Fountain and Carter in which they discussed their work and 80-year history together.