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With the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. 8 p.m. Thursday. $26-$86. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000.
When it came time for Aaron Neville, Don Was and Keith Richards to enter the studio together, the scene was, “a bunch of guys acting like a bunch of kids.”
That’s according to Neville, the soft-spoken legend of New Orleans-rooted R&B-soul, who worked with the dynamic duo on his latest album, “My True Story,” released last year. It’s a collection of doo-wop songs, which Neville said reminds him of his youth.
So why now and why with Was and Richards on board?
“It’s something I’ve been trying to do for a while,” Neville said last week from his home in New York. “Everything I’ve done has had some sort of doo-wop essence to it, but the record companies didn’t want to have anything to do with a doo-wop album.”
Enter Was and his Blue Note Records label, on which “My True Story” was released.
“Don thought it was a great idea, and he got Keith involved because he’s a doo-wop fan. I was once on an airplane from New Orleans to Los Angeles with Frankie Valli singing doo-wop for hours. That music represents a special time for all of us,” Neville said, as one of his two cats mewed softly in the background.
Fans will hear some of Neville’s most recent output at his Thursday concert at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre as part of its Jazz Roots series, where he’ll perform with his quintet (the Dirty Dozen Brass Band opens).
But Neville, who turned 73 last week, promises, “A little bit of everything. We go from one thing to another and spread a little bit of (all of my music) in.”
To squeeze “a little bit” of Neville’s music into a show would take hours, considering his four decades of musical output, both with his family and solo.
From “Fire on the Bayou” to “Tell It Like It Is” to “Everybody Plays the Fool” to his collaborations with Linda Ronstadt (“Don’t Know Much,” “All My Life”), Neville’s career has hopscotched R&B and pop charts alike, while always retaining the organic nature of his roots.
For years, he and the Neville Brothers closed out the renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but recently, Neville has wrapped up the fest with his own band.
“You don’t know how long you have and you can’t do both, so I had to choose,” he said. “It’s good. Everybody does their own thing. We’ll try to get together in the near future and do another Neville Brothers thing, a special gig or something. But for the near future, it’s just me.”
Neville turns diplomatic when asked about the changes to his hometown festival, which in recent years has recruited as many big-name rock stars (Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel) as it has jazz and R&B.
“No comment,” he said with a laugh. “You know, it’s their thing. Do what you want to do. I’m just glad to be invited and do my thing. I’m not gonna make any waves.”
Neville, who readily admits to being a social media fan — “I like it, it’s fun. My wife, Sarah, helps me with it. She does the typing.” — has a simple explanation for how he stays motivated in an industry that has changed dramatically since his arrival.
“I like to sing to people,” he said. “I want to sing to people as long as I’m here.”
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