Jeff Newell’s New-Trad Octet

Sept. 2 - 2012

Jeff Newell’s New-Trad Octet was formed in 1994 as a Mardi Gras band, but things “got out of control,” said the leader. We’ll say. While you certainly can feast on the band’s brassy second line sound and a songlist including New Orleans favorites like “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” tradition gets subverted at every turn by Newell’s rampant post-modernism. His arrangements are meeting places for John Philip Sousa and Charlie Parker and Robert Johnson – any American music is fair game – as well as the voodoo rhythms of Haitian kompa and the Cuban clave beat.

Now based in Brooklyn, Newell was part of the Chicago scene from 1978 until his move east in 1994. This will be his third time leading one of his bands at the Chicago Jazz Festival. His special edition of the octet will feature trumpeter Orbert Davis (Artist in Residence at the 2011 Chicago Jazz Festival), trombonist Andy Baker, tuba player Mike Hogg, guitarist Neil Alger, keyboardist Steve Million, bassist Chuck Webb and drummer Rick Vitek. Not all of the New-Trad music is manic. Newell’s love of New Orleans comes through affectingly on “Saint Gabriel Parish,” a response to Hurricance Katrina. But when the octet attains liftoff, your feet better not fail you.

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