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June 28, 2017

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Trombone Shorty, Aaron Neville close New Orleans jazz fest

NEW ORLEANS--For more than two decades, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has closed with a performance by the city's own Neville Brothers.

On Sunday, that tradition changed. Aaron Neville performed on a stage with his new band while young brass band frontman Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews closed the festival's biggest stage — where the Neville Brothers once held court the last day.

Andrews and his band, Orleans Avenue, entertained a jam-packed crowd as the festival ended its 2013 run. A sea of faces stretched to the track's back fence.

Neville said he views the closing lineup change as kind of a "passing of the guard.

"Trombone Slim, as I call him, will do a great job," Neville said of Andrews. "I remember when it was Professor Longhair out there and then we did it for a long time. It's time. Slim is a big musician and I'm proud of the way he's handled himself."

Neville is promoting his new album, "My True Story," released earlier this year. At 72, he says it's the right time to focus on a solo project.

"My brothers and I have been performing together like 35 years," Neville said. "I wanted to do some other things and I couldn't do both because of my age and my health, so I decided to back off the Brothers and focus on what I wanted to do. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be here and I would be mad at myself if I didn't take the time to do me."

His brothers — Art, Cyril and Charles — performed during the festival's first weekend under a new name, The Nevilles.

Still, he wasn't completely without family on stage. Charles Neville plays saxophone in his quintet. Aaron Neville gave fest-goers a good sampling of the new music which covers a musical genre close to his heart — doo-wop.

"If you listen to any of my music, there's a doo-wop essence to it," he said. "Since I was a little boy, I've listened to people like Clyde McPhatter and the like. Everything I've ever done has some doo-wop in it. It's innocent music. Music that tells the story of boy meets girl. Music I can listen to with my granddaughter and my grandmother and nobody gets offended."

Another closing day act was Hall & Oates, who made their Jazz Fest debut Sunday.

John Oates said he and his longtime musical partner, Darryl Hall, have always wondered why this festival was never on their schedule.

"I can tell you, both Darryl and I haven't been more excited about a gig in about 20 to 30 years," Oates said. "We're really psyched and excited about the opportunity."

Other closing day acts included Irma Thomas, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Black Keys, Taj Mahal and Pete Fountain.

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