A series of heavy rains have only served to multiply the mud fields generated at the 44th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s first weekend at the Fair Grounds Race Course. On my way in for the first day of weekend #2, with threatening clouds overhead (again), I pass by some serious testifying by the Singing Mustangs Choir to find that some of the track’s grassy infield has become a beach. A layer of sand has been added in an attempt deal with the growing quagmire, though some areas remain a gooey swamp -- like the wide moat that separates the Jazz & Heritage Stage and Big Chief Iron Horse & the Black Seminoles’ Mardi Gras Indian chants from the crowd. As I slog over to Fais Do Do, with my Converse hi-tops already massacred by mud, I reach a spot on New Beach where there’s a perfect harmonic convergence of sound from three stages, with Big Chief, Grupo Sensacion’s meringue, and the charm of Balfa Tojours’ traditional Cajun participating in a spontaneous,Read More »from 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – Weekend 2
Blog Posts by Tristram Lozaw
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Tue, May 7, 2013 8:41 PM EDT
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Fri, May 3, 2013 2:53 PM EDT
BeauSoleil's Michael DoucetIf coming to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Jazz Fest is like going to school and majoring in New Orleans music, hanging out at the week of all-day in-store performance at the Louisiana Music Factory record store in the French Quarter is the Advanced Placement class. The CD & vinyl mecca – with its “library” of 1000s of hard-to-find and rare “reference” recordings -- presents 32 shows running about 45 minutes each between Jazz Fest weekends, shows by many of the musical luminaries that perform over at Fest.
Did I mention it’s all free? And even though the huge crowds in the long-narrow shop can make it difficult to shop during the performances, the in-store performances help sell records and keep the Louisiana Music Factory, a music fan and record collector’s paradise, open.Read More »from Music Series at Louisiana Music Factory: Jazz Fest 2013
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Tue, Apr 30, 2013 4:16 PM EDT
Henry Gray’s keyboards are first thing I hear upon arriving at my 27th (or is it 28th?) straight Jazz Fest. It reminds me of a time a few years back, at an early Ponderosa Stomp, when I leaned on Gray’s piano while listening to him reunite with other blues legends from Muddy Waters’ and Howlin’ Wolf’s groups. It was spectacular. “This is the sh*t that inspired the Yardbirds and Stones to pick up guitars,” I thought, “and I’m hearing it like they did.” Recalling that revelation reminds me that even as the number of big touring acts included in the Fest lineup grows and grows, I still make the annual pilgrimage for the Henry Grays among the 500-plus acts performing at the New Orleans Jazz Fest over seven days divided between two weekends, acts that provoke my annual mad darting from stage to stage around the Fair Grounds Race Course where the festival is held. And it’s time to Start The Dart.
I catch some of the Friendly Travelers, who are in the Gospel Tent churning outRead More »from Celebrating New Orleans’ Native Tongues: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – Weekend 1
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Thu, Aug 2, 2012 5:20 PM EDT
[Photo: Ivan Singer Photography]People sometimes ask why I drive all the way to the back roads of the Berkshires for the finale of Banglewood, the pet name for Bang on a Can's Summer Festival and Institute. Surely that's not the only place one can hear adventurous contemporary music.
Well, maybe not, though most of us would likely have to travel somewhere distant to hear the phantasmical vocalizing into an amplified piano of George Crumb's "Ancient Voices of Children," or even a sample of the other 16 works that were performed at Bang on a Can's 11th Annual Summer Festival Marathon.
There's just nothing quite like it. As it is often pointed out, the six hours of performances are like a musician's dozen of concerts rolled into one. And this year's superb Banglewood finale ran closer to seven hours as it helped to celebrate Bang on a Can's 25th year in high sonic style.Read More »from Reich & Roll: The 11th Annual Bang on a Can Summer Festival Marathon
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Wed, May 9, 2012 8:33 PM EDT
Weekend II, May 3-7, 2012
Fair Grounds Race Course, New Orleans
I'm not even half way through Jazz Fest 2012 -- seven days of the sensory overload of music simultaneously pouring from 11 stages for eight hours a day, along with the food, art, and people watching that have become part of this annual pilgrimage. By 7 p.m. on Sunday, I will have seen at least some of the performances by over 150 of the 400-plus acts that will have appeared.
I know the routine, I've done it over two dozen years in a row. And by the Thursday that starts the second weekend, I've shaken off any aching footsies and lack of conditioning for the daily marathon of zigging from stage to stage. Usually. This year seems, well, different for no good reason that I can tell.
Owing to a dream I had last night, I briefly toy with setting up this blog review as a Facebook style timeline with location tags. Thankfully, I nix the idea when I decide thatRead More »from Jazz Fest Weekend Two: How I Almost Lost My Jazz Fest Mojo
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Fri, May 4, 2012 6:38 PM EDT
Barry Smith is fairly calm for a man nailing down the last-minute details for a special DVD-release event with the members of the HBO hit series "Treme," organizing a still-shifting line-up of presentations and appearances, handing out music advice, and dealing with the fact that the Rebirth Brass Band has just called in to report that a car accident will prevent them from performing a set that was scheduled to start five minutes ago.
Oh, did I mention that Smith's record store, the Louisiana Music Factory, where all this taking place, has been overrun by a hundred or two customers? Some are grasping to-go cups of draft beer from a bar down the street, others clutching an armful of hard-to-find albums grabbed from the store's formidable selection, still others just leaning on a rack in one of the couple rows that run the length of the slender store.Read More »from Jazz Fest Continued: The Best Little “Restival” in New Orleans
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Mon, Apr 30, 2012 4:00 PM EDT
April 27-29, 2012
Fair Grounds Race Course, New Orleans
There are lots of worthwhile music festivals out there these days. Coachella, Bumbershoot, Bonnaroo, Rhythm and Roots, and Lollapalooza are annual destinations for many, just to name a few. They all have one thing in common: they all studied, and to varying degrees mimicked, the multi-stage model of the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
But Jazz Fest has one thing that one thing that can't be copied: the Gulf region's built-in talent pool. Even though Hurricane Katrina scattered the city's cultural base, and some of the fertile urban funk has been gentrified, there still ain't nothin' like New Orleans. Or Jazz Fest.Read More »from Jazz Fest Weekend One: Startin’ Some Big “Mess” Here Today
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Tue, Aug 2, 2011 9:16 AM EDT
At multi-stage festivals like New Orleans Jazz Fest or Bonnaroo, we do our music genre hopping by darting from stage to stage. At Bang on a Can's Music Marathon, the finale of their annual three-week Summer Festival in the Berkshires, the stage does all the style jumping for us. And as as I settle into the Hunter Center for the latest Bangfest of six-plus uninterrupted hours of rare, ear-expanding, boundary-smacking new music, I'm not too proud to say I'm excited to sit back and enjoy the ride. Again.
As with New Orleans' Jazz Fest, it's gratifying to watch some of the regulars of BOAC's festival grow from year to year. Like Christine Southworth, who opens the marathon with "Super Collider," which has been performed previously, among other places, at Lincoln Center with Kronos Quartet and Gamelan Galak Tika. Here, a string quartet of summer residents and the 10-piece Gamelan Elektrika take on Southworth's digital hybrid. Elektrika are playing traditional Indonesian gamelan instrumentsRead More »from Banglewood’s 10th Year of Musical Chairs is Something to Celebrate
- Tristram Lozaw | Maximum Performance – Tue, May 10, 2011 2:55 PM EDT
By the end of Jazz Fest 2011, I estimate I'll have heard at least a few minutes of nearly 200 of the over 375 acts that will have performed over the seven sunny days of this annual one-of-a-kind music retreat. And as I look back at how many times the word "funk" turned up in my treatise on the first weekend, I figure that I could probably use that descriptive in some form for at least half of the performers here. So unless someone delivers a customized "funky" thesaurus, tout suite, you can expect more of the same in my wanderings of the next four days.
But first, there are some tear-steeped Cajun and country ballads a callin' at Fais Do Do, with lines like "If the whiskey don't kill me I'll live till I die." And here's something you don't see every day in a Zydeco-Creole band: Bijou Creole, led by former Pine Leaf Boy Cedric Watson, has a clarinet as one of the group's melodic centerpieces. On a few songs, the clarinet takes the place of the accordion next to the guitars and drums andRead More »from Jazzfest 2011: Everythin’ Gohn Be Funky From Now On
Ahh, the 42nd Annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, just like I pictured it. Music wafting on the tails of a Gulf breeze, a blue sky painted above ... and everything (apologies to Steve Wonder). I'm all set for seven days of the sensory overload of music simultaneously pouring from 11 stages (12 if you count the Kid's Tent) along with the food, art, and people watching that have become part of this annual pilgrimage.
Overpowering just about everything else here--except for maybe the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster that decimated nearby parts of the Gulf coast--is that this Jazz Fest is the largest presentation of Haitian music since last year's earthquake rocked the island nation. Kompa singer and newly elected president of Haiti Michel Martelly will be represented here by his cousin Richard Morse, a presidential advisor as well as a member of the Haitian vodou drum troupe RAM, which will be featured several times at the Fest over the weekend. "Haiti and NewRead More »from Jazz Fest Weekend One: New Orleans Lets It Shine
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