In January, after looking over the lineup for this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which was laden with rock and pop, I wrote:
More than five years after Katrina, with the city recovering but much of it still resembling a post-war nightmare, a party called a jazz festival symbolizes New Orleans’ determination to recover. That speaks of a spirit that rises from within New Orleanians and cuts through a malaise of failed leadership, politics and bureaucracy. For eight years, I was a New Orleanian. I understand that spirit. It grows out of the curious combination of laissez faire and obstinance that animates folks whose blood has a component of coffee with chicory.
Partying, food, boogying and getting down are wonderful. Few Orleanians would disagree with any of that…
…It is clear that popular taste no longer embraces jazz as a central element. It is equally clear that the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is here to stay as a kaleidoscope of entertainment. It would be welcome if the city also had room for a festival that honored and nurtured the music that is the living symbol of the New Orleans spirit. Somehow, jazz ended up with a bit part in what the natives still call JazzFest.
To read all of that piece, which includes early JazzFest history, go here:
The festival wound up last weekend. How did it work out? It depends on whom you ask, of course. The bookkeepers in the JazzFest front office may be ecstatic, those who wanted to hear jazz less so; columnist Brian Ross, for instance. Here’s some of what he wrote on The Huffington Post.
Jazz may get top billing on the signage and the posters at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but it rides the back of the bus on the fairgrounds.
There’s a reason for this too… (Shhhh…) Jazz doesn’t make the festival much money.
The smallish jazz tent at “Jazz Fest” was relegated to a location directly behind the big ACURA main stage where the blow-back of the mega-speakers blaring alternative pop bands like Arcade Fire muddled the music of The Mingus Big Band and others.
Only a festival with the namesake Jazz was positioned for that kind of disrespect. Not Gospel. Not Blues. Not Cajun.
To read all of Ross’s report, go here.
If you attended JazzFest, please use the comment box below to share your impressions with fellow Rifftides readers.