Naughty Professor

Jazz Sextet

Naughty Professor

Recipient Information

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Medium

Jazz Sextet

Year of Award

2020

Grant or Fellowship

Jazz Road Tours Grant

Grant Amount

$15,000

Performances

About the Artist

Naughty Professor is an iconoclastic New Orleans-based jazz-funk sextet whose adventurous recordings and horn-charged, high-energy live performances have earned them an enthusiastic fan base, critical acclaim, and widespread attention from their musical peers. A wide range of musical impulses has driven Naughty Professor ever since the band members first convened in 2010, having met while students at Loyola University’s jazz program. The musicians’ potent collective chemistry quickly won attention on the New Orleans music scene. After graduating, they began touring, expanding their audience nationwide. Their diligent roadwork has established Naughty Professor as a beloved live act. Weaving together complex,inventive compositions and loose, organic improvisation, the band honors their hometown’s jazz, R&B and brass traditions while looking to the future.

Naughty Professor’s first three albums—2013’s Until the Next Time, 2015’s Out On A Limb and 2016’s live In the Flesh—further raised the band’s national profile. Lauded by critics for having a musical “depth and vision far beyond their young years,” Naughty Professor’s name regularly appears alongside New Orleans’ veteran luminaries. In 2013, the band was nominated by Gambit’Weekly’s Big Easy Music Awards for “Best Emerging Artist,” and for “Best Funk Band” every year since.Naughty Professor was also nominated in 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Offbeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat Awards for “Best R&B/Funk Artist.” In the magazine’s most recent poll, bassist Noah Young and Drummer Sam Shahin were named finalists as the “Best at their Instruments,” furthering the band’s stellar musical reputation. Naughty Professor’s unyielding exploration of their home city’s eclectic musical landscape continued on Identity. “We all were drawn to the city, and we all have a tremendous respect for the history of the music culture in New Orleans.

In no way are we a traditional New Orleans band, and this is not a traditional New Orleans record, but New Orleans’ musical and cultural traditions have everything to do with how we make music.” Where their prior four releases showcased the group’s knack for self-contained instrumental experimentation, Identity finds the band teaming with a stellar assortment of more than a dozen cutting-edge collaborators, whose vocal, instrumental and compositional contributions expand the music into new musical territory. New Orleans’ vital spirit is present throughout Identity, which combines artfully-crafted studio creations with material developed through live performance. “We like being adventurous and cerebral,but fun is also important,” Shahin concludes. “We operate with a jazz mentality, but we like verse/chorus structures. We definitely embrace the idea that we’re bridging the gap between the more thought-provoking side of jazz and popular mainstream music, and making the whole thing fun and accessible.” The result is Identity, Naughty Professor’s most potent and ambitious musical statement to date. It is a record that, by collecting together diverse and disparate musical voices into a seamless whole, simultaneously honors the past and pushes into the future. Since its release in 2017, Naughty P has continued to evolve, with more recorded and live music on the horizon.