Following a soulful first Sunday of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival headlined by Tedeschi Trucks Band, Maurice “MOBETTA” Brown gathered up all his visiting friends for a special set at Toulouse Theatre.

Taking the stage at 2 a.m., Maurice & Friends were one of the last bands standing as Sunday rolled into Monday. This gave the charismatic trumpeter/rapper/bandleader a tactical advantage, as scores of visiting musicians had nothing left to do on their busy schedules but to drop by and jam.

Originally billed as a five-piece band featuring Brown, guitarist Eric Krasno (Soulive), drummer Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science), Erick “Jesus” Coomes (Lettuce), and lauded Afro-Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez, the Sunday night MOBETTA & Friends show began to grown in scope when Cuban funk wunderkind Cimafunk was added to the lineup the morning of the show—and that was just the beginning.

In quintessential Jazz Fest fashion, the roster ballooned to many times that size as nearly two dozen musicians rotated onto the stage throughout the show. By the night’s end, Brown found himself playing with a completely different backing band than the one with which he had started the show, intertwining and improvising freely as the personnel shifted.

Just some of the other musicians involved in the Maurice Brown & Friends show at Toulouse included D’Vibes and Kwinton Gray on keytar, djembe master Weedie Braimah, revered guitarist Marcus Machado, Cimafunk backup singer/trombonist Hilaria Cacao, Andy Frasco & The U.N. drummer Andee Avila, and more. Maurice also got several of his former TTB bandmates involved in the jam, with Kebbi Williams (saxophone), Ephraim Owens (trumpet), Alecia Chakour (vocals, percussion), and Mark Rivers (vocals) all making their way onto the stage as the show went on.

Brown’s late-night show marked the end of a long evening for many of the performers, including billed drummer Adam Deitch, who raced across the French Quarter from a Break Science show at the Joy Theatre which ended as doors opened at the Toulouse. Similarly, the majority of the members of Ghost-Note—none of whom were on the bill for the Toulouse show—rushed over to play with Maurice following their own special “Holy Ghost-Note” show at the Blue Nile. As throngs of musicians filled the intimate Toulouse stage, even more familiar faces peeked out from behind the curtain and spilled in from backstage.

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With such a wealth of musicians on hand, the songs performed onstage became loose templates to explore the wide range of influences at the Toulouse. A loose and grooving take on ’90s favorite “No Diggity” featured vocal interpolations from Rivers, Cimafunk, and more. An instrumental take on Drake‘s “Hotline Bling” became a standout jam of the evening, with a funked-up take on Future‘s “Mask Off” following shortly thereafter.

As the time neared 4 a.m., Brown appeared to start wrapping things up, only to announce that he was first going to give every musician a chance to chime in and say something instrumentally before the big finish. With somewhere near 20 musicians onstage, these closing remarks were one long, drawn-out goodbye to give a proper farewell to the first weekend of Jazz Fest.

Below, check out a selection of crowd-shot videos from Maurice “MOBETTA” Brown & Friends at Toulouse Theatre in New Orleans as well as a gallery of photos courtesy of photographer Jason Stern.


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Maurice “MOBETTA” Brown & Friends – Toulouse Theatre – New Orleans, LA – 4/30/23 – Full Video

[Video: FunkItBlog]