Though another Mardi Gras has come and gone, the season for fun and frivolity is just starting to heat up in Boston. So what better way to kick off the summer than with a culturally-elite jam with the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble at the Museum of Fine Arts on July 22 at 7:30?
Known for their exquisite musicianship and unquenchable sense of fun, RSE will raise the snakes (er- stakes) even higher with special, award-winning guests Jason Palmer on trumpet and Godwin Louis on alto saxophone.
A perennial favorite at the HONK! Festival in Somerville and at Needham’s famed Fourth of July parade (not to mention in New Orleans itself, where the band regularly tours and supports the musical community), the Ensemble will be making a triumphant return to the MFA’s Concerts in the Courtyard series after nearly a decade on the road.
“We’ve wanted to get back ever since,” says Ensemble leader Ken Field. “It’s a spectacular setting, outside in the beautiful and historic courtyard of the MFA in the middle of the summer.”
When they last played the MFA, the Ensemble’s special guest was a young horn player named Troy Andrews.
“He was not quite the superstar at that point that he is today,” says Field of the now legendary Trombone Shorty, “but he knocked off a lot of socks, and we had a blast!”
As both Palmer and Louis have already begun to make a name for themselves (Palmer won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition and has been hailed by Downbeat as one of the “Top 25 Trumpeters to Watch” while Louis is a graduate of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz Performance and has been a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute Sax Competition), this latest show is sure to bring them to the attention of the Boston music scene and far beyond!
“Jason Palmer is a monster young trumpeter who is attracting tons of attention,” says Field. “He is one of those musicians who is changing the face of jazz with fantastic technique and intense creativity.”
As for Louis, Field fetes the NY-based player who has been touring with drummer Al Foster. “Godwin played with us at Regattabar for our Mardi Gras show this past February with Charles Neville,” Field recalls, “and he turned a lot of heads and ears.”
No matter who is sitting in with the Ensemble, however, they have the firepower to keep the night hot even on their own, thanks to the combined expertise of Tom Hall on tenor sax, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Dave Harris on trombone and tuba, Blake Newman on acoustic bass, and Phil Neighbors on drums.
“I’m so grateful to have the chance to play regularly with these creative geniuses,” Field smiles.
In addition to popular favorites from their acclaimed 2014 release, Live Snakes (which was selected as a “best of 2014” album by CMJ, and at New Orleans’ legendary local music station WWOZ, the Ensemble will probably pull from their deep catalog of Gospel-infused Jazz, Funk, and Blues and do whatever it takes to get the artsy crowd crowd up and dancing.
“We will be playing old and new material,” Field says, “including a collection of original (and as-yet unrecorded) pieces that will form the core of our next CD… We also plan to present a mini-tribute to the recently-departed jazz giant Ornette Coleman.”
With their hearts in the Big Easy and the souls in the Hub, the Ensemble always makes for a revolutionary-ly good time. So be sure to catch them and their guests at the MFA- and bring your dancing shoes!
– Matt Robinson
Starts at 6 pm. General Seating tickets: $24 MFA members, $30 nonmembers.
At Norma Jean Calderwood Courtyard of the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston,For 800-440-6975 / www.mfa.org http://www.mfa.org/programs/music/revolutionary-snake-ensemble-with-special-guest-jason-palmer