Higher Ground: Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert
(November 22, 2005)
1. This Joy - Shirley Caesar
2. Over There - Terence Blanchard
3. Go To The Mardi Gras - Art & Aaron Neville
4. Basin Street Blues - Diana Krall
5. Never Die Young - James Taylor
6. The House I Live In - Dianne Reeves
7. New Orleans Blues - Marcus Roberts
8. I Think It's Going To Rain Today - Norah Jones
9. Dippermouth Blues - Wynton Marsalis Hot Seven
10. I'm Gonna Love You Anyway - Buckwheat Zydeco
11. Is That All There Is - Bette Midler & Lincoln
Center Jazz Orchestra
12. Just A Closer Walk With Thee - Irvin Mayfield Jr.
13. Here's To Life - The Jordan Family
14. Blackwell's Message - Joe Lovano
15. Come Sunday - Cassandra Wilson & Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Higher Ground (Blue Note)
The audio of the first televised benefit for Katrina
victims is more inspirational than most newly released Christmas
CDs. Shirley Caesar's stirring "This Joy" symbolizes the
hope Americans expressed through massive donations. Terence Blanchard's
Herculean trumpet solo on "Over There" tells of his fellow
Crescent City natives' terrifying efforts to escape. Norah Jones
offers a quietly moving "I Think It's Going to Rain Today"
as comfort while Aaron Neville's "Going to the Mardi Gras"
celebrates cultural contributions that can't be destroyed by wind
or water. Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Bette Midler, Cassandra
Wilson and Mark O'Connor are among the other artists who performed
with desperate soulfulness. (Roberta Penn)
Detroit Free Press
Sweet home New Orleans
By Terry Lawson
November 20, 2005
Higher Ground: Hurricane Relief Benefit
There was no shortage of tireless
volunteers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and one of the true
early responders was proud son of New Orleans Wynton Marsalis, who
sacrificed his tiresome jazz purity to put together a benefit concert
at Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
It manages to pay respect to the multiple musical tributaries of
the Big Easy, yet maintains a cohesive spirit that is captured on
Gospel singer Shirley Caesar sets the sanctified
tone with an earth- and heart-shaking “This Joy,” while trumpeter
Terence Ballard, also from N.O., contributes an achingly empathetic
“Over There.” Marsalis gets the opportunity to revisit the R&B
he played with high school bands as he joins two Neville Brothers,
Art and angel-voiced Aaron (whose interpretation of Randy Newman’s
“Louisiana 1927? would become the sad anthem of the disaster), on
a rollicking version of Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras.”
Marsalis also takes his chair with the Lincoln Center Orchestra,
conducted by Don Sebesky, to provide a beautifully blue backdrop
for Bette Midler’s surprisingly appropriate rendition of the Peggy
Lee hit “Is That All There Is?”
Marsalis’ personal moment comes, however, with a
Louis Armstrong-style Hot Seven romp through King Oliver’s “Dippermouth
Blues,” a standout on a condensed version of the program that also
includes contributions from Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, Norah Jones,
James Taylor, Marcus Roberts and Joe Lovano. We hope an upcoming
DVD will include more, or maybe all, of a show that also featured
Elvis Costello and Allan Toussaint, Paul Simon, Arturo O’Farrill
and the great Abbey Lincoln.
All net profits from the CD will be donated to the
Higher Ground Relief Fund, established to benefit the musician and,
music-industry related enterprises from the New Orleans area that
were affected by Hurricane Katrina and to provide other general
Review by Steve Leggett
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall at New Orleans on August 29,
2005, and the levees failed, devastating the city, the world's complete
attention was suddenly focused in on the cradle of jazz, and several
benefit relief concerts were quickly organized, including the concert
that is presented here, held September 17, 2005, at P. Rose Hall
in New York City. The album itself is an elegant and measured affair,
opening with a burst of energetic gospel from Shirley Caesar and
Eric Reed, who deliver a stirring version of "This Joy,"
followed by trumpeter Terence Blanchard's stately, beautiful, and
meditative "Over There." Other highlights include the
Marcus Roberts Trio's take on Jelly Roll Morton's "New Orleans
Blues," which is really a rather joyous rendition; Buckwheat
Zydeco's stomping "I'm Gonna Love You Anyway"; and Norah
Jones' stunning version of Randy Newman's brilliant and poignant
"I Think It's Going to Rain Today," with its powerful
and repeated refrain of "Human kindness is overflowing/I think
it's going to rain today." In the wake of the tragedy many
wondered what might become of New Orleans' unique culture and music,
and this concert gives listeners a clue. It will not only survive,
it will circle back on itself and draw strength and vitality from
its storied past. The smooth sophistication of jazz might at times
make it appear fragile, but it is anything but, and has always fed
on the wild and unpredictable elements of its improvisational DNA.
It will take a lot more than a storm surge to wash it away.
By Bob Karlovits
Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW MUSIC WRITER
"Higher Ground: Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert" (Blue
Note) Various artists. This album is a continuation of a September
relief concert at the headquarters of Jazz at Lincoln Center in
New York City.
It features jazz stars such as Wynton Marsalis,
Diane Krall, Dianne Reeves and Terence Blanchard. But it also has
some other-genre visitors such as the Neville Brothers, James Taylor,
Bette Midler and Buckwheat Zydeco.
Whatever the style, the performances are sincere
and strong. Midler gives "Is That All There Is?" a great
sense of irony in a rendition with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Marsalis does a Louis Armstrong-flavored "Dippermouth
Blues" with his Hot Seven, Reeves is soulful on "The House
I Live In" and Irvin Mayfield provides a gospel-rich version
of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee."
The Daily News
JAZZIN' AROUND: 'Higher Ground' show aided Katrina victims
By: DAVID JAYE
We have even more reason to give thanks this year,
after seeing what hundreds of thousands of Americans in the Gulf
Coast have suffered in recent months.
The devastation of New Orleans, the cradle of jazz, and much of
America's musical fiber, has especially moved jazz and blues musicians.
You might recall the stellar line-up who performed
at Lincoln Center in September for hurricane relief.
Billed as the "Higher Ground" benefit concert, it boasted
of Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Abbey Lincoln, Jon Hendricks, Paquito
D'Rivera, Paul Simon, Peter Cincotti and at least a dozen others.
Blue Note Records now has released an album of that
historic concert. New Orleanians Terence Blanchard, Marcus Roberts,
Art and Aaron Neville, Idris Muhammad, Irvin Mayfield, Buckwheat
Zydeco, Kent and Marlon Jordan, Marcus Printup and Jazz at Lincoln
Center director Wynton Marsalis get featured on the album.
Also making the record are stirring performances
by Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Bette Midler, Dianne Reeves (with
perhaps the album's highlight), Diana Krall, James Taylor, Shirley
Caesar, Joe Lovano and Marc O'Connor, plus the Lincoln Center Jazz
Orchestra. Album cover art is an original by Leroy Nieman, too.
The concert already has raised $2 million.
The album should raise lots more.
This Week's Hot CD: 'Higher Ground'
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Higher Ground (Blue Note Records)
From the funky "Go to the Mardi Gras,"
featuring Art and Aaron Neville, to Cassadra Wilson's prayerful
version of Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" (with the Lincoln
Center Jazz Orchestra), "Higher Ground" pays tribute to
hurricane-devastated New Orleans and its rich musical heritage.
The 15-song collection was recorded at Lincoln Center on Sept. 17,
three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, during the Higher Ground Hurricane
Relief Benefit Concert. Artists include Norah Jones, Diana Krall,
Wynton Marsalis, Bette Midler, Dianne Reeves, James Taylor and Buckwheat
Zydeco. There are joy and hope as well as sadness and reflection
in the individual performances. But no song expresses the heart
and soul of this album better than Reeves' powerful, uplifting "The
House I Live In." It sums up what Marsalis calls America's
"transcendent and abiding soul." (Gene Stout)