The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival maintains a remarkable balance between grassroots conservation and contemporary innovation, set in an atmosphere of sensory delight that has reached legendary proportion. Through a deft combination of traditional and cutting edge performances, Jazz fest 2000 showcases the vibrant cultural legacy of Louisiana proper and its worldwide extended family.
This years revelry commenced on Friday, April 28, with the first performance at the Louisiana Heritage Fair-the official name for the daytime Festival activities that took place at the historic Fair Grounds Race course. The 2000 Louisiana Heritage Fair was from Friday-Sunday, April 28-30, and Thursday-Sunday, May 4-7.
The Louisiana Heritage Fair presents a multi-faceted sampler of the musical, culinary and craft traditions that flourish in Louisiana, the neighboring and inter-related regions of the gulf Coast states and the Caribbean nations, and the cultural well-springs of Africa, Europe and Asia. This celebratory sense of delight was reflected in the Heritage Fairs global roster of musicians, crafts people and cooks, from Louisiana and the far-flung corners of the world. For many people, this global sense of community gives Jazz Fest a cosmic component, and a sense that the Festival truly touches their soul.
The soul of the Festival is music, and the eclectic line up with twelve simultaneous stages was fantastic, with a profusion of styles including jazz-from traditional to avante-garde; diverse African sounds; soul and funk, and classic New Orleans R&B; Cajun music and Creole zydeco; Caribbean genres; country music, both old-time and contemporary; blues, both rural and urban; Gospel; rock and rockabilly; folk; and intriguing hybrids of them all. Festival music also took the form of a movable feast; in addition to stage performances, daily parades swaggered and rambled around the infield, led by Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Mardi Gras Indian tribes, and brass bands.
The high energy festival line-up was highlighted by Jazz Fest favorites the Allman Brothers Band; esteemed Gospel singers the Williams Brothers; jazz pianist Chick Corea, with vibraphonist Gary Burton, and the New Leviathan Oriental Fox-trot Orchestra; homegrown heroes, Dr. John, Harry Connick Jr., pianist McCoy Tyner, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet; Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Frankie "Sea Cruise" Ford, the debuts of pianist Dick Hyman, jazz vocalist Ernie Andrews; master multi-instrumentalist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.
Diva Erykah Badu made her Jazz Fest debut, as does blues guitar hot-shot Roy Rogers, the legendary R&B group the O'Jays, the great Allen Toussaint, zydeco heart-throb Geno Delafose, reggae legends the Wailers; Gospel powerhouse Yolanda Adams; and zydeco-nouveau artist Lil Malcolm, rockabilly singer Maggie Lewis appears with guitar ace Kenny Bill Stinson, saxophonist Charles Neville and his jazz Ensemble, the legendary Temptations, Lenny Kravitz, the Neville Brothers,Les McCann, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, Irwin Mayfield, jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jason Marsalis and many, many more.
The legendary Ray Charles made an exclusive appearance on the eve of the Jazz Fest, when the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation presented Gala 2000, April 27. A stellar line -up of New Orleans artists graced the gala stage, including Allen Troussaint, Ellis Marsalis, The Zion Harmonizers, and the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band.
At the jazz tent was keyboard wizard, Chick Corea where throughout his 35-year career, he has alternated acoustic and electric projects while collaborating with an assortment of high-brow musicians. His history with renowned vibraphonist Gary Burton goes back to the 1970's; the depth and intimacy of their creative partnership was evident during their duo performance at the jazz tent. No electrified fusion for Corea on this day. He stuck to an acoustic grand piano, with aspiring results. As Burton's trademark four mallets danced above his instrument, notes rang from all across the vibraphone at once.Corea's piano and Burton's vibes intertwined on "Bud Powell", Corea's ode to one of his early influences. As they expanded and expounded on the melody, their tones would intersect briefly then veer off. This joyous interplay blew through the tent like a cool breeze. A wonderful opening day jazz summit.
A special series kicked off with two evenings of New Orleans showcasing "New Orleans Jazz Divas", On April 28, The "Jazz Divas" featured the sultry vocals of New Orleans leading music ladies, Germaine Bazzle, Cookie Gabriel, Sharon Martin, Wanda Rouzan and Barbara Shorts. They were joined by musicians Darrell Lavigne, Eric Traub, Chris Severin, and Troy Davis.
During the second showcasing of New Orleans "Jazz Divas" performance on Friday, May 5th, the unique and multi-faceted talents of Lillian Boutte`, Juanita Brooks, Topsy Chapman, Leah Chase and Betty Shirley were spotlighted. Musicians Larry Seiberth, Thaddeus Richard, Roland Guerin and Shannon Powell offered their musical support to these incomparable artists.
One of Cuba's best known and most respected salsa bands performed, the renowned Los Van Van. Showcasing their sizzling dance repertoire for more than 30 years and performing for adoring audiences across the globe, Los Van Van displayed their much-praised command of Cuba rhythms in their first New Orleans appearance since winning a Grammy for Best Salsa performance.
There was also a full schedule of education workshops held free of charge in New Orleans schools and Universities throughout the festival. This special series was started in 1984 by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with the support of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, bringing local, National and International artists into a more intimate setting that is equal parts discussion, performance and entertainment.
Every day, a variety of talented musicians shared their music in the streets and clubs of New Orleans, during the ten days of Jazz Fest, various traditions come together under the bright Louisiana sun for everyone to enjoy.
Experiencing and enjoying everything the people of New Orleans and Louisiana has to offer is what the Jazz Fest is about.