Wynton Marsalis with
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
November 5, 2015
Wynton Marsalis with
Steeped in a huge pot of Southern flavors — including gospel, country, and R&B — Little Feat is the stuff of ’70s rock legend. The band built on its early cult following to create a weird and wonderful blueprint: effortlessly slick rock ‘n’ roll delivered with a surreal, rollicking, West Coast swerve.
Little Feat has always had what it takes to become one of the best live bands in rock history — they are tight because they are loose (natural) and technically gifted (piano man Bill Payne was classically trained). By any logic, Little Feat should be as beloved among classic rock fans as Led Zeppelin and the Allmans — two groups that counted themselves as Feat lovers — but fate and misfortunate condemned the Los Angeles-based sextet to cult status.
Their songs are as warm as bear hugs and as musically accomplished as jazz tunes, but Feat reserved the right to go gnarly and bizarre once in a while. (After all, this is a group that started its career backing Captain Beefheart.) They’ve done it all with style and conviction, and proved that a lasting reputation comes from outstanding music, not massive success.
Singer, songwriter, sideman, bandleader, American treasure Leon Russell has done it all. Russell became a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 in recognition of a career that has brushed against many of rock’s most influential and elite characters. It’s a belated honor to one of the true unsung greats of the game.
With his trademark top hat, long silver locks, and old-prospector beard, Leon Russell has always cut a flamboyant figure as instantly memorable as his music. Whether you’ve heard him pumping out his own hits like “Tight Rope,” or hammering the 88s behind the likes of Bob Dylan and Joe Cocker, you know Russell the moment he enters your ears. Even those who’ve never heard a note he recorded are more intimate with him than they realize — he’s played with them all — Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and The Rolling Stones to name a few.
Bits of blues, rock, gospel, bluegrass, and more come bounding out of his tunes, sometimes all at once, making up a style whose only possible label is simply “Leon Russell.”