Aaron Neville ranks right up there among the myriad singular phenomena of New Orleans music. Taking just one facet of his many talents, Neville is a spectacular soul and gospel singer, his utterly unique fluttery delivery and impossibly airy, soaring falsetto both instantly recognizable and impossible for anyone else to even approximate. Then there's always the stark contrast between the gossamer delicacy of Neville's voice and his bulging muscles and the knife tattoo on his cheek. At New Orleans's annual Jazz Fest, Aaron's other band, the equally iconic Neville Brothers, typically close out the entire affair on one of the main stages. But, usually unannounced, Aaron invariably shows up at the Gospel Tent to sing with friends like the Zion Harmonizers. And it's gospel that's the focus of his wondrous new album, I Know I've Been Changed: a dozen standards kicked off by Sam Cooke's "Stand By Me," produced by studio ace Joe Henry and featuring piano from fellow NOLA icon Allen Toussaint, who produced Aaron's first recording session in 1960. A few of those tunes might make it into the Dakota set, as well as Aaron's solo nugget "Tell It Like It Is," but the emphasis will be on Christmas, which Aaron has done up superbly on a couple of holiday discs, running the gamut from pop to spiritual. And the band should be great too, led by brother Charles Neville and his sinuous jazz sax.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Starts: Nov. 30. Continues through Dec. 1, 2010