Not so long ago, the Cajun lifestyle was a rich, undiscovered American subculture, hiding in plain sight down on the proverbial bayou. These days, it’s a different story, as zydeco and Cajun music have filtered out, if not into the mainstream, at least establishing strong footholds in such far-flung places as San Francisco, where Louisiana Cajun food and music are easily found and savored.
J.J. Reneaux, storyteller and musician, knows from whence she speaks and sings. Raised in southern Louisiana and Texas, Reneaux steeped herself in the tales and sounds of the region.
She’ll sing and spin yarns at the Church of Religious Science in Ventura on Friday and again in a family show at Ojai’s Oak Grove School on Sunday afternoon.
Reneaux’s swamp sauce can be heard on the album “Cajun, Country and Blue,” recorded in her current hometown of Athens, Ga., but released on the Swiss Brambus label.
She frames the album with two cover songs, opening with the traditional tune “Raise Your Window High” and closing with zydeco king Clifton Chenier’s “Every Now and Then.” The rest of the material comes from Reneaux’s pen, sung in English and French.
Reflecting the all-important epicurean aspect of Cajun culture, Cafe Baralouche in Ventura will offer a special Cajun dinner before the concert Friday. It should be a bon temps in the old town.
Jazz Goes to the Beach
Last month, Jazz Hall owner and now jazz promoter Ridah Omri scored a coup by bringing Kenny Barron’s Trio to the Lobero Theatre for a rousing show. On Saturday, Omri shifts operations to another untapped venue.
The Cabrillo Arts Center, perched over East Beach in Santa Barbara, is a fine room for music, and with an ocean view, to boot. This Saturday’s show promises to be a full musical smorgasbord with Faye Carol, Buddy Collette, and the Los Angeles Jazz Quartet providing the music. The show reflects a telling spectrum of jazz in California.
Carol has made a splash in the Bay Area club scene. A singer with roots in R&B; as well as jazz, Carol toured with Marvin Gaye and has shared the stage with Pharaoh Sanders, Ray Charles and Albert King.
Performing in the Bay Area with her own groups, Carol has played alongside such young and now-burgeoning talents as pianist Benny Green. Of late, Carol has been keeping it in the family: For the Saturday show she appears with pianist Kito Gamble, her daughter.
Gamble, whose father is a music teacher, got her first dose of jazz enrichment from the lauded Berkeley High School jazz program, and went on to study at UC Berkeley. Now 25, she has shared stages with Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Turre, Roy Hargrove and Branford Marsalis.
Collette, who shows up in Ventura and Santa Barbara from time to time, is one of the finest saxophone veterans in Los Angeles, where he was born, in 1921, and bred. His jazz career perhaps suffered because of his long run of work in the studios, but he hasn’t lost his warmth or intensity. In a sense, he seems to be making up for lost time.
The Los Angeles Jazz Quartet is a limber, thinking person’s ensemble, lending integrity to the idea of “L.A. Jazz.” Guitarist Larry Koonse, saxophonist Chuck Manning, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Kevin Tullius create a smooth ensemble sound that can also be smart and exploratory.
J.J. Reneaux performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Church of Religious Science, 101 S. Laurel St., Ventura. $10. 650-9688. She will also perform a family concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Oak Grove School, 220 W. Lomita Ave., Ojai. Tickets are $6 adults and $4 children. 646-8236.
Faye Carol and Kito Gamble, Buddy Collette and the L.A. Jazz Quartet, play Saturday at 8 p.m. at Cabrillo Arts Center, 118 E. Cabrillo Blvd., in Santa Barbara. $30. Reception from 6:30-7:30 p.m. 963-0404.