Johnny Vidacovich / Press

“New Orleans Piano – High Sierra Music Hall A welcome break from the blazing sun outside, this joyful indoor set of James Booker/Professor Longhair-inspired NOLA stride piano was a real surprise. The one-off band featured Marco Benevento and CR Gruver on keys, dueling and weaving in and out of each other's licks with playful passion. And with the all-star rhythm section of NOLA jazz legend Johnny Vidacovich on drums and Radiators/New Orleans Suspects bassist Reggie Scanlan, the two-step grooves were pushed and prodded with nimble dexterity. Marco and CR alternated between an upright piano and electric keys, and when things got cookin' the result was pure ragtime gold. Their dueling stride licks were pristine on rollicking takes of old-time classics like “Goodnight Irene,” but the highlight for me had to be Marco's jubilant, rolling instrumental take on the Sunny of the Side Street,” which had me stompin', smilin' and clappin' like it was springtime on Frenchman St.”

“But the culmination of the night was when Johnny V. played his catchy chant, “I Don’t Know.” It was one of the only songs that featured the drummer’s vocals, and he sang some deep lyrics to a funky beat. “Is it ice/Or is it water?” he belted out, followed by similar questions and observations. He summed up his thoughts by exclaiming, “Too many questions/but too many answers to be found,” then, following the swell of the cymbals, went back into the chorus. The song ended and Johnny V. grabbed the microphone, pulling it so close that it buzzed as he spoke. “You are beautiful,” he said to the audience. “When you came, it sounded much better. Without you, this would be impossible.” For some groups, having a weekly gig could become repetitive, but Johnny V. is not that way. He thrives on interaction, and with different players and different audiences each week he doesn’t get stale. Of all the things he may not know, what he does know is what to play and when to p”

“The simply-named Trio -- featuring Johnny Vidacovich (pictured) on drums, George Porter Jr. on bass and June Yamagishi on guitar -- as a regular appearance around town has always gotten the kind of reviews from showgoers that are more facial expressions and noises than actual words. Putting those three mighty powers of funk, blues and soul together on one stage is only part of the magic. Vidacovich, Porter and Yamagishi's chops have won them a lot of friends over the years, and their "special guests" onstage always feature some of the biggest talents and even the biggest names in local music. Yamagishi wails, Vidacovich pounds and Porter provides the throbbing, funky backbone for some of the most soaring and surprising jams that could happen, structured around everything from fusion jazz to Meters classics to '50s style New Orleans R&B. A Trio show at this time of year is like Jazz Fest in January.”

“And in drummer Johnny Vidacovich, a bona fide New Orleans legend, they have a remarkably loose-limbed, polyrhythmic whirlwind who is capable of embellishing a rubato section with ethereal percussive colors or laying down a funky N’awlins street beat with uncommon authority.”

"Johnny Vidacovich is not only one of the greatest drummers in New Orleans, he's one of the greatest drummers in the world."

“Vidacovich and Singleton popped and weaved with spidery elasticity and rifle-shot second-line rolls”