The first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival featured performances by Dave Matthews Band and Wilco, offering a promising start to the two-week-long event. The 2009 installation of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival marks the 40th anniversary of Jazz Fest, which celebrates the “heritage of jazz,” according to festival producer Quint Davis.
Approximately 180 acts assembled on 11 stages for the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which also included two performances by Wynton Marsalis, such as a rendition of “Congo Square” performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Ghanian percussionist Yacub Addy and Odadaa! Check online for New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival tickets.
Jazz Fest has stages dedicated to gospel, jazz, blues, Cajun and zydeco, and although the one-day attendance record was 160,000 in 2001, when the Dave Matthews Band made their first appearance at the New Orleans festival, many fans turned up to see DMB this year as well. The band’s set over the weekend was the first in the Big Easy for DMB since the death of sax player and founding member Leroi Moore last summer. “Nice to be here, neighbors,” said Matthews before the band delivered three songs, “Why I Am,” “Funny the Way it Is” and “Spaceman,” from their new album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King; “GrooGrux King” was the late Moore’s nickname.
The first ever New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was held in 1970 and only drew a crowd of about 350, and while that has changed Jazz Fest continues to honor its roots, with about 80% of this year’s performers hailing from Louisiana. The festival is being held at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course, which has been home to the event since 1972. 97-year-old jazz trumpeter Lionel Ferbos has performed at the festival since its inaugural year, in which he played with the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, and told Billboard online that Jazz Fest is a lot different now, saying with a laugh that “nobody showed up” its first year. The 2009 edition of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will feature about a dozen performers, such as jazz singer Germaine Bazzle, pianist Henry Butler, drummer Johnny Vidacovich, clarinetist Pete Fountain, singer-pianist Ellis Marsalis and Ferbos, who were there from the beginning and are returning to play Jazz Fest.
Festival Founder George Wein, who started the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival in the 1950s, told Billboard.com that it took years for Jazz Fest to become a reality because of the segregation in the early 1960s. When the first Jazz Fest was held at Louis Armstrong Memorial Park and the park’s Congo Square, each performer was from Louisiana except for pianist/composer Duke Ellington. Wein, a pianist himself, will perform with his band, the Newport All-Stars, at the festival next weekend and told Billboard that he is “very proud and excited that maybe we’ve made a good contribution to the city and the world.” Get your New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival tickets today!
By tatlin from Pixabay