“2017 Jazz Fest posters honor The Meters, Jon Batiste,” WWL

by Dominic Massa, via wwltv.com

The 2017 Jazz Fest posters will honor the founding fathers of funk, The Meters, and CBS “Late Show” bandleader Jon Batiste, a Kenner native and NOCCA graduate.


The posters were unveiled Tuesday by ProCreations, which produces the posters for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival each year.

The main poster, “Funk Foundation” is by artist Francis X. Pavy.  He also created the poster depicting The Neville Brothers in 1997 and Jerry Lee Lewis in 2007.  Art Neville is also a founding member of The Meters, the legendary band formed a decade before The Neville Brothers. In addition to Art Neville, Pavy’s work depicts the original 1966 Meters: George Porter, Jr. (bass), Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste (drums) and Leo Nocentelli (guitar). The legendary band will reunite again to close out the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on May 7.

“Pavy responded with a visual bravado as muscular as the band’s performances are rare,” said ProCreations in its announcement.  The band is shown performing at the Municipal Auditorium. “He sets the stage with an undulating burgundy velvet curtain embroidered with French Quarter buildings descending from a moonlit graduated midnight sky filigreed with cloud puffs. The formal, majestic yet surreal setting perfectly counterpoints the tight, driving funk his subjects propel from the stage. Their sinewy postures make these four uniquely inventive musicians visually audible.”

Pavy is a native of Lafayette whose work is collected by Capitol Records, Ron Howard, Lorne Michaels, Paul Simon and Jimmy Buffett, according to ProCreations.

The Meters were the house band for Allen Toussaint and his record label (behind Lee Dorsey, Earl King, Ernie K-Doe, Toussaint himself, among others)beginning in late 1966. In 1969 they released “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut,” which became Top 10 R&B chart hits.

In 1975 The Meters released “Fire on the Bayou,” an album that included the Top 40 hit “Hey Pocky A-Way.” The band opened for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 and 1976 tours.  Also in 1975, they worked on the Wild Tchoupitoulas project with Art Neville’s uncle George Landry (“Big Chief Jolly”). In 1977, after eight studio albums, The Meters disbanded. They reunited in 2000 and performed at Jazz Fest in 2006 and 2015.

This year’s Congo Square poster, titled “Taking it to the Street,” is a portrait of Jon Batiste, by artist Brandan BMike Odums.

“Congo Square at the Jazz Festival is an expanse without artistic bounds. So it is fitting that an artist whose talent can’t be contained within four walls portray one whose exuberance tracks Einstein’s theory of special relativity – turning sheer energy into joyous musical mass,” ProCreations said.

Both Batiste and Odums are graduates of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). “These are young cats with long tails,” the announcement reads, citing the two young men as innovators, mentors and educators spreading their unique talents in unique ways.

Batiste is a pianist and harmonaboard player who balances roles as bandleader on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Artistic Director At Large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem with teaching and acting. After NOCCA (studying alongside Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews under Ellis Marsalis and Alvin Batiste, among others), Batiste earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Juilliard.

“His infectious musical energy is exemplified by his signature impromptu love riots , interactive social music that takes it to the audience and brings them onstage or out into the street, a 21st century update on New Orleans parade tradition.”

“Odums envisions a sun-haloed Batiste strutting through a line-drawn phantasmagoria of a classic New Orleans neighborhood. Paint drips, smears, brush pulls and obscured graffiti reveal a freshness and spontaneous life that mirror s his subject s essential soul and the city that launched them both.”

Odums is best known for his public art projects, including in the Florida Housing Development. He also organized other street artists into a public art project titled ProjectBe, in “ExhibitBe,” inside a five-story abandoned apartment complex slated for demolition. Last year he opened StudioBe, an exhibit inside a transformed warehouse near NOCCA.

(© 2017 WWL)