This Thursday (3/23) New Orleans funk/jazz group Naughty Professor is bringing their Spring tour to American Beauty Bar for what is sure to be a top notch night of grooves and heavy improvisation. Since their formation in 2011, the band has been on an impressive hot streak having already released two solid albums and performing at venues and festivals around the country. This is an exciting time in the Naughty Professor camp! Luckily, we were given the opportunity to talk with Sam Shahin and alto/tenor saxophone player Nick Ellman before their stop in NYC!
Naughty Professor started when core members: Noah Ellison on bass, Ian Bowman on tenor saxophone, John Culbreth on trumpet and Bill Daniel on guitar, along with Nick and Sam, met at Loyola University in New Orleans and set out to play the funk/soul and jazz music that the Crescent City is famous for.
First, Sam explained the dual meanings of their unusual band name, “One is that we appreciate the academic/intellectual side of music while embracing a raw unfliltered (often improvisatory) approach. It’s that dichotomy that helps define our sound; and the other side is that we all met in college in New Orleans and had a hot teacher.”
They have quickly established themselves as mainstays in the New Orleans music scene, a scene that goes back to legendary acts like The Meters and more recent predecessors like Papa Grows Funk and Galactic.
Sam emphasized how much the city and their funk forefathers have meant to them, “Galactic has helped pave the way for instrumental bands like us… they’ve been featuring a number of amazing artists for years and we totally look up to them.”
Sam and Nick seem to admire Galactic’s longevity and their status as fixtures in the New Orleans music scene with massive annual shows during Jazz Fest and a pre Mardi Gras show every year, made legendary for lasting until the sun comes up on Fat Tuesday. “We’re in it for the long haul…playing more festivals is something we want to do for sure.” Nick added.
Because of their background as jazz students, you can tell that each member of Naughty Professor takes their craft seriously. “The concert itself is always a reaction to the energy of the audience, a reaction to the to other players on stage and we always keep our ears open if something new can happen in an old song with new perspectives.” Sam explained while discussing how the group improvises within each of their compositions.
The band as also made a few exciting changes recently with adding vocalists to their typically instrumental based music and collaborating with hip hop artist Chali 2na (from Jurassic 5) and Revivalists lead singer David Shaw. They are also welcoming special guests on their tour, including keyboardist/singer Cole DeGenova who will be joining them onstage at American Beauty.
Sam and Nick seemed enthused to have DeGenova joining them in NYC and specified that he’ll also be featured on the upcoming Naughty Professor album titled Identity, set to feature special guests on each track and to be released early this summer!
“Every time I’m in New York there’s such an incredible energy that permeates out of the sidewalk and it’s just a really inspiring place to want to make music.” said Nick.
The band’s last trip to New York was very special because Naughty Professor headlined the historic Blue Note Jazz club, “I grew up listening to Elvin Jones live at the Blue Note…and it was such a prolific and inspiring place…and to play a show with all the history there was incredibly inspiring to me.”
Sam also added. “We know New York is a place that likes to rage – and we’re people who like to rage – so we’re going to be combing those two great forces of raging into a really, really fun energetic night.”
Needless to say Naughty Professor will be bringing the high energy funk to New York City on Thursday night so grab your tickets here and come rage with us!