Yes We Can: the Songs of New Orleans

Sunday, September 24


Wagner Stage on the Midway

YES WE CAN: THE SONGS OF NEW ORLEANS is led by Steve Marquette on guitar and Jeff Albert on trombone and arrangements. The ensemble membership is rotating, in the spirit of keeping the project as inclusive as possible. The Hyde Park Jazz Festival iteration features AYANNA WOODS, LIAM KAZAR, MACIE STEWART, and SIMA CUNNINGHAM on vocals, BEN LAMAR GAY on vocals and cornet, JOE CLARK on trumpet, KEEFE JACKSON on tenor saxophone, NICK MAZZARELLA on alto saxophone, NOLAN CHIN on piano and organ, ANTON HATWICH on bass, and ISAIAH SPENCER on drums.

Continuing a long standing connection between the New Orleans and Chicago music scenes, Yes We Can was first organized in Chicago in January 2017 to celebrate what would have been the 79th birthday of Allen Toussaint, one of the most prolific songwriters and producers in New Orleans history. Inspired by the spirit of the music and the man who wrote it, the funds raised from this first concert were donated to Orleans Public Defenders. In subsequent performances Yes We Can: The Songs of New Orleans has expanded their book of tunes from strictly Toussaint penned compositions to include other artists of equal importance to the New Orleans sound. The song choices — and their calls to action— are no accident. Of their first performance, Steve recalls, "There was a tremendous feeling of optimism and positivity. People felt empowered to go and do something with that energy. In the words of Toussaint and Earl King, 'Yes We Can,' 'Make a Better World.'"

Guitarist, improviser, and composer STEVE MARQUETTE is an active member of Chicago’s free jazz and improvised music communities. His primary Chicago project is the acoustic string trio the Few, with violinist and vocalist Macie Stewart and bassist Charlie Kirchen. The trio has toured the U.S., collaborated with Ken Vandermark, and released their debut album, Fragments of a Luxury Vessel, in December 2016. In addition, Steve works extensively with musicians in Orleans, first leading his own quintet and currently playing with the large ensemble the Instigation Orchestra. The Instigation Orchestra also works with Marie Casimir’s Djaspora dance collective as part of an ongoing project exploring sound and movement between Haiti, New Orleans, and Chicago.

Louisiana-born JEFF ALBERT is a trombonist, music technologist, and educator. He was named a Rising Star Trombonist in the Downbeat Critics Poll each year from 2011 to 2016, performs regularly in the New Orleans area, and has played throughout the U.S. and Europe. Jeff leads a quartet, is a member of Hamid Drake’s Bindu- Reggaeology band, and co-led the Lucky 7s with fellow trombonist Jeb Bishop. He has also performed with the likes of George Graewe, Tobias Delius, Dave Rempis, Jeff Parker, and many others. In addition, Jeff is an assistant professor of music industry technology at Loyola University New Orleans and a graduate of the PhD program in experimental music and digital media at Louisiana State University.