"This is a really thrilling night for me -- my hometown and everything," Chick Corea told a Tampa Bay area audience openly hyped about the first tour in 25 years by Return to Forever, the keyboardist's seminal fusion band.
The Neville Brothers, playing their traditional closing-day slot at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the first time since 2005, offered an emotional conclusion to the 39th annual celebration of Louisiana music and culture.
"We've had a blessed year and we're gonna bless y'all with our music," Sharon Jones, powerhouse belter and frontwoman for old-school soul/funk outfit the Dap-Kings, promised near the start of the group's return show at Skipper's.
Last year's edition of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was aptly dubbed a miracle, because divine intervention -- manifested via major sponsorship from Shell Oil Co. and the sheer determination of organizers to keep the thing alive -- unexpectedly ensured the survival of the sprawling event, less than eight months after hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the region.
New Orleans' homegrown musical culture, facing the fight of its life, lives large in Harry Connick Jr.'s simultaneously released albums, each offering a multiplicity of strains that collectively have helped make the Crescent City sound so distinctive.