Once upon a time, you had to go to New Orleans to see many of the Crescent City's jazz fusion bands. Then, a big hurricane named Katrina destroyed the city, and the Big Easy's bands were forced to embark on fund-raising tours ever after. Such is the case with E.O.E. (Equal Opportunity Employment), a four-piece N'awlins ensemble that blends the sounds of classic jazz with hip-hop vocals, Latin rhythms, and bouncy reggae riffs. Group founder Billy Franklin's heartstrings are still tied to New Orleans after all, he's spent most of his life there, studying jazz and classical guitar at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and working with local luminaries like Ellis Marsalis. So it's not surprising that E.O.E. plans to perform a number of benefit shows for Habitat for Humanity on its latest tour and donate a dollar from every copy the band sells of its latest CD, Fortune and Circumstance, to the recovery effort. And in case you're suffering from "compassion fatigue," E.O.E. reminds us of New Orleans' ongoing struggles in these lines from the title track: "Let's hear it for New Orleans and the fortunes born of circumstance and pain/We all been lookin' for a new day, but we're still walking through the rain."
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