What do you call a musical gumbo that recalls the ancestral strut andjoie de vivre of the New Orleans’ Tremé, the drama and ecstasy of the church’s wailing floor, and the suited-up sophistication of jazz threaded with the party funk of Parliament? What do you name sounds that hail from Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the red dirt South all at once? How do you label music that simultaneously evokes all of the uncontainable energies and passions exploding from so many disparate musical legacies? Here we call it Water Seed.
The origins of this hybridity reflecting the diverse feels and experiences of Black America begin in New Orleans, the birthplace of multi-instrumentalists Lou Hill and J Sharp, the architects of Water Seed’s cool, elemental sound. The band’s privileging of rhythm and groove, the elegant jazz flourishes, and lyrical songs deeply rooted in both alchemists’ classical education, all hint at the sacred training grounds that sharpened Louisiana jazz greats from Jelly Roll Morton to the Marsalis Brothers, creators known for marrying the traditional with the modern in the creation of the new.
Preternaturally aware of their paths fairly early, Hill began playing the alto sax in fourth grade while Sharp was developing his piano chops over the three-notes of “Hot Crossed Buns” at the tender age of five. Both learned as children to respect their crafts through studious dedication, rigorous practice schedules, and trying their hand at several different instruments before landing on their primary tools of musical expression, the percussion for Hill and the keys for Sharp, each finding their home.
These curators’ apprentice journeys took different paths, reflecting different exposures. Sharp reared in a home of classical music, engaged in demanding training while nursing concerto circuit dreams. Hill was immersed in the radio R&B and funk of the day and the jazz culture of