Higher Ground -- Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert

Some stars for this Katrina benefit concert in NYC are indeed Big Easy icons, like the Neville Brothers (Aaron and Art supply "Goin' to New Orleans," sloppy, too-polite, and rollicking all at once), the rousing Buckwheat Zydeco, and Wynton Marsalis, who also provided the axe-grinding liner notes. Others' hearts are in the right place (Norah Jones, James Taylor) or are repaying a musical and/or personal debt to the Crescent City, as exemplified by tenor sax titan Joe Lovano's elastic, blues-drenched "Blackwell's Message." Diana Krall gamely but lamely acts the tough mama on "Basin Street Blues" (but her band is fabulous), while Bette Midler, not usually renowned for subtlety, essays a gently bittersweet "Is That All There Is," the classic Peggy Lee ode to resignation. The set concludes with Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," sung with aching devotion by Cassandra Wilson, while Mark O'Connor's violin exquisitely equals her fervor. Come on: Buy it and contribute.


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