Russell Batiste Band at the Maple Leaf

I have seen Russell Batiste perform in innumerable bands over the past twenty years.  He was a precocious teenager when he played with Charmaine Neville.  He ably took on the legacy of Zigaboo Modeliste when Art Neville and George Porter, Jr. formed the Funky Meters.  He kick started Papa Grows Funk, PBS and numerous other bands.  He also leads his own group, which is playing tonight at the Maple Leaf.  I had a chance to see the latest incarnation of the band at the Freret Street Festival.  The most interesting thing about this ensemble besides Russell’s impeccable drum chops is the fact that he has two keyboard players.  The saying goes (and the movie title), “Piano players rarely play together.”  Well these two had it going on.  An added bonus with the Russell Batiste Band is the vocalist Jason Neville.  He performed two songs associated with the Beatles- Paul McCartney’s, “Blackbird,” and John Lennon’s, “Jealous Guy.”

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