On March 1, New Orleans-based label Special Man Industries Records will release a limited 45 rpm record (also available digitally) featuring acclaimed songwriter and instrumentalist Leyla McCalla. The two-song release follows similar projects featuring Alynda Segarra, Louis Michot, and the label’s own King James.
This latest installment finds McCalla joined by label house band the Special Men for a cover of the classic New Orleans song “Eh La Bas.” (The song’s b-side is the band’s take on “Eat That Chicken.”) McCalla came to the project through a friendship with Jazz and Heritage Foundation director Scott Aiges, who connected her with King James (aka Jimmy Horn) with future collaborations in mind.
“A couple of years after our initial meeting, Jimmy told me about a record he was working on featuring guest New Orleans singers,” McCalla says. “He asked me if I would be interested in participating and would I be willing to sing the classic Creole New Orleans tune ‘Eh Las Bas.’ This was particularly exciting for me as it’s one of the few times that I could arrive somewhere with just my banjo and my voice. A few days before the session, I was researching all of the versions of ‘Eh Las Bas’ that I could find and came up with a version that drew from from Danny Barker, to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Kid Ory with a Haitian sounding banjo lilt.”
In other McCalla news, Songs Of Our Native Daughters — her collaboration with Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, and Allison Russell — is out today.
Listen to “Eh La Bas” below.