New Orleans jazz icons to play free at Irvine's Great Park
Are there two more dissimilar cities in America than New Orleans and Irvine?
One is virtually synonymous with an improvisational approach to life; the other is the epitome of the planned community, where homeowners associations regulate what color people can paint their houses.
The twain are about to meet, however, in Irvine's Orange County Great Park. The quasi-municipal park's free summer concert series, "Flights & Sounds," opens this weekend and features two leading exponents of the Crescent City's improvisational gift.
Branford Marsalis, sax-playing scion of New Orleans' most celebrated jazz family, leads his Branford Marsalis Quartet at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, whose name describes its mission of keeping alive the more than century-old sound of traditional New Orleans jazz, arrives Sept. 3.
The series also includes two affiliated acts from San Francisco that have a contemporary, hip-hop-infused take on jazz: The Shotgun Wedding Quintet (Aug. 19) is a small-group subset of the Jazz Mafia (Aug. 20), a big band incorporating brass and strings.
The series also includes a DJ act and world music groups, and is particularly strong in roots music: Another esteemed musical child of Louisiana, folk-rocker Lucinda Williams (whose bittersweet "Crescent City" is one of the best love letters in song that a city ever received), headlines Aug. 13, and the Del McCoury Band, a primo bluegrass outfit, plays Aug. 27.
Parking costs $10.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Branford Marsalis. Credit: Miguel Tona / EPA.