Leyla McCalla Maps Her Musical World Before Jazz Fest Friday

On last year’s A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, Leyla McCalla situated her exploration of her Haitian Creole roots in South Louisiana, not by making Cajun or zydeco music, but by working with Louis Michot, Don Vappie and other area musicians to find a place where their ideas meet. The performances have obvious intellectual rigor, but it never comes at the expense of heart.

Ben Sollee Makes Connections

"The thing that I don't enjoy is what we're pulling up to right now, which is when you just sit in traffic," cellist Ben Sollee says. He's driving in California on tour, and he enjoys the people watching and the wind farms, but it's not his preferred way of touring. The last time he played New Orleans, he was starting a bike tour of the Gulf South that he had to cut short in Pensacola.

Helen Gillet Alone and With People

On her previous album, The Running of the Bells, Helen Gillet performed with collaborators Tim Green and Doug Garrison, both part of New Orleans' undervalued improvised music community along with Gillet, who brings classic training in the cello to the act of making music. Recently, she released her self-titled third album this time, it's a solo album. It's more pop-oriented, which isn't to say it's pop.

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