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World Music CD Reviews North American

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By James Rodgers
Published January 24, 2006

Our New Orleans 2005: A Benefit Album
Nonesuch

While the spirit of New Orleans was dealt a devastating blow by Hurricane Katrina, it’s uplifting to witness the renewed focus on its musical history and legacy. So it’s only logical that Our New Orleans 2005, featuring 15 artists with direct ties to the city, is the best of the post-flood benefit records. The performers’ obvious love and passion for their hometown imbues these 16 tracks with emotion and pride, while exemplifying the importance of music from the region. Cajun, Zydeco, jazz, blues and soul are all strongly represented and celebrated. From Allen Toussaint’s ebullient, funky “Yes We Can Can” to the Wild Magnolias’ energetic “Brother John Is Gone/Herc-Jolly-John” to Randy Newman’s poignant, orchestral “Louisiana 1927,” this disc entertains while pointing out why it’s important to help rebuild. Not every track is a classic, though. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” is wobbly, and Charlie Miller’s “Prayer For New Orleans” is almost unlistenable, if mercifully short. But this benefit supports New Orleans, its musicians and Habitat For Humanity’s efforts, and that’s money well spent.