Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s King of the Party is an energetic fourth album that adds more jazz, rock and hip hop to the group’s already awesome repertoire of funk. Leader Big Sam Williams is one with his trombone; his cocky vocals are backed by his impressive collaboration with Drew “Da Phessah” Baham on trumpet, Takeshi Shimmura on guitar, Eric Vogel on bass and Desmond “Chocolate Milk” Williams on drums. It’s the next best thing to a live show of BSFN if you can’t catch them as they tour the country this summer. For their performance at Essence Fest this July, take a cue from Big Sam: Get “Krunked Up,” “Rock Yo Soul,” bring that “Big Ole Booty” and “Work It” on the “Dance Floor.” Good advice from some great local musicians.
Photography l Photographer Ashley Merlin’s Statuesque New Orleans thoughtfully and extensively showcases the remarkably diverse collection of statues and monuments throughout the New Orleans area. Some may be familiar – Andrew Jackson in his Square – and some may be overlooked – Irish Monument on Pontchartrain Boulevard; all have a story and message. Merlin includes maps by neighborhood for an eye-opening experience.
Cookbook l This homage to NOLA and its food will be at home on your coffee table as well as in your kitchen. Stacey Meyer and Troy Gilbert put together a collection of extraordinary recipes paired with a grand array of local artwork with New Orleans Kitchens: Recipes from the Big Easy’s Best Restaurants. Channel the likes of Emeril – after reading his foreword – and put together a Big Easy feast: Oysters Rockefeller from Galatoire’s, Ponchatoula Strawberry Sangria from La Côte Brasserie, Corn Macque Choux from Chef John Folse, Creole Tomato Gazpacho from One, Turkey Jambalaya from Jacque-Imo’s and Apple Frangipane Tart from Sucré. Or, have your favorite brunch away from home at home – in bed with Crêpes Degas and Michalopoulos.
Children’s l Happy JazzFest: A Story for All Ages about the Greatest Festival in the World is a pleasing and familiar tour of the event that gives many of its fans around the world a reason to eat, sleep and breathe. Written by Cornell P. Landry, author of Goodnight NOLA, and illustrated by Sean Gautreaux, it nicely captures the sights, smells and sounds: Big Chief Bo Dollis, crawfish and The Neville Brothers. Reading aloud makes for a fun way to celebrate a happy Jazz Fest any day.