The New Orleans-based jazz-funk ensemble Galactic formed in 1994; originally an eight-piece, the group soon pared down to an instrumental sextet comprised of guitarist Jeff Raines, organist Rich Vogel, bassist Robert Mercurio, saxophonists Ben Ellman and Jason Mingledorff, and drummer Stanton Moore. Later adding Crescent City music scene vet Theryl deClouet on vocals, Galactic built a fervent local following on the strength of a relentless live schedule that included opening slots for group heroes including the Meters, Maceo Parker, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. In 1996 Galactic issued their debut LP, Coolin' Off; upon signing to major-label Capricorn, they re-released the album two years later, soon followed by the all-new Crazyhorse Mongoose (after which Mingledorff left). Since then, they have released a slew of albums including Late for the Future in 2000, Ruckus in 2003, and From the Corner to the Block in 2007. The band itself released a pair of live albums of its sets at Jazz Fest in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, they issued their most ambitious project to date with Ya-Ka-May, a wholesale New Orleans recording featuring guest appearances by everyone from Irma Thomas and Big Chief Bo Dollis to the Rebirth Brass Band and Walter "Wolfman" Washington. Galactic decided to explore the various connections between New Orleans' annual Mardi Gras and the nearly nationwide Carnivale of Brazil. Carnivale Electricos did exactly that. Enlisting help from Cyril and Ivan Neville, rappers Mystikal and Mannie Fresh, Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Juan Pardo, the KIPP Renaissance High School Marching Band, and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. Galactic stretched itself toward Brazil's native samba by covering Carlinhos Brown's "Malagenha." They composed two tunes that bridged the continents: "Guero Bounce," fusing NOLA bounce and Brazilian rhythms, and "Julou," titled for the band's own outsider Mardis Gras parade. They also include the traditional Carnivale number "O Côco da Galinha" with the help of samba poet Moyseis Marques on vocals. Carnivale Electricos was issued on Mardis Gras Day in 2012; it was their last recording for Anti.
Over the next couple of years, the band toured and its members either pursued solo projects or collaborated, both in the studio or on-stage, with other musicians In May of 2015, Galactic announced a label deal with Provogue and a new album entitled Into the Deep. Produced by Ellman and Mercurio, the set featured guest appearances by a range of vocalists including Macy Gray, Mavis Staples, and Maggie Koerner. "Right On," with soul singer Charm Taylor, and the title cut featuring Gray, were both pre-released in June; the album followed in late July. ~ Jason Ankeny & Thom Jurek
- New Orleans, LA