There was never a better time for Galactic than February of last year.
The New Orleans jazz-funk act released its latest album, the inspired ‘Ya-Ka-May.’ The disc dropped a week after the band’s beloved football team, the New Orleans Saints, won its first Super Bowl in the team’s primarily wretched 43-year history.
“That was a massive time for us,” guitarist Jeff Raines said. “When you put out an album, that’s usually the focal point but all we could talk about was the Saints winning the Super Bowl. But it didn’t matter what you accomplished then. That’s the way it was for anyone who is part of the ‘Who-Dat-Nation.’ It was all about the Saints.”
Well, the afterglow of the Saints win that rocked Bourbon Street finally faded but the music from ‘Ya-Ka-May’ still burns bright for the adventurous Galactic.
The disc is aptly enough a tribute to the band’s hometown.
It’s a sonic potpourri of jazz, funk and hip-hop. A number of New Orleans street musicians and a couple of rappers from the sissy-rap scene joined Galactic, which also includes bassist Robert Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist Ben Ellman and organist Rich Vogel, in the studio.
“It’s nice to play with the famous musicians from New Orleans,” Raines said. “But we became interested in the rap scene and we love so many of them. We didn’t plan on having a number of rappers on the disc but it just happened organically. We were blown away by the skills of Cheeky Black and Big Freeda. What they do is so bizarre and unique.”
That sort of describes New Orleans. “Without a doubt,” Raines said. “It’s an incredible city. There’s an energy there you won’t find anywhere else.”
The Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty also lent their skills to Galactic’s varied effort.
Galactic will showcase the tunes Wednesday at the Trocadero. “It’s a little taste of New Orleans,” Raines said. “It’s like nothing else.”
Speaking of a taste of the Big Easy, the title of the disc is taken from a New Orleans soup, which features noodles, egg, spinach and Asian spices. “We could have called the album ‘gumbo’ but that would be cliché. We went with something interesting. We had some fun with it.”
Galactic took some chances in the studio, which reflects its live show, which is unpredictable. “We have the most fun we can when we play live,” Raines said. “It’s about a good time as we can have. It’s right up there with watching the Saints win the Super Bowl.”