My new album, Coming Home, is largely about my New Orleans journey. When I moved here from New York, I was searching for something deep in the city’s musical history, rebelling against the tendencies of the modern jazz guitarist and returning to the genre’s blues roots.
This playlist is made up of classic recordings that have come out of New Orleans in the past century. “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” by Jessie Hill (forefather of the fabled Andrews musical family), is a song that I’ve played hundreds of times with his grandson James Andrews. “Street Parade” is an anthem by R&B stalwart Earl King, produced by Allen Toussaint with the Meters as the backing band. “Street People” is an under-appreciated track by Bobby Charles—the songwriter who wrote “Walkin’ to New Orleans” and “See You Later, Alligator”—from an album he recorded in 1972 at Bearsville Studios with the Band.
Though I am inspired by contemporary artists and my musical peers, the old jazz and R&B born from this city have struck the deepest chord in me. In the words of King James & the Special Men, “Act like you know.”
Sam Friend is a New Orleans–based jazz guitarist. Coming Home is out now