The Big Easy was in full swing for its’ 37th Annual Jazz & Heritage Festival, the city of New Orleans once again came together after the aftermath two years ago of both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita to showcase one of the largest tourist attraction in the united states. New Orleans is the original birth place of jazz with the greatest jazz sound in the world and home to some of the greatest jazz musicians that ever lived past and present.
Jazz fest got under way with a great start and a fine line up Headlining this year’s Jazz fest was Harry Connick Jr., Steely Dan, Jill Scott, John Legend and Norah Jones, Rod Stewart, and John Mayer on various stages throughout the festival. AT&T / WWOZ Jazz Tent, highlighted some of the most prestigious jazz artistes of New Orleans and abroad. James Carter an established saxophonist, arranger, writer and composer in his own right played his saxophone with plenty of enthusiasm, exciting his audience, and holding their interest while asking for Carter to give more and more. Over on the Congo Square Stage Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews wowed his fans with more of a funk spin than traditional and modern jazz sound. Andrews, a very skilled trombonist and trumpeter, entertained the audience just like a funk/rock star- his devotees loved his creative style. While Andrews was entertaining the crowd on the Congo stage multi-instrumentalist, Lucky Peterson astounded the blues crowd as a triple threat as a guitarist, pianist, and organist.
Jazz lovers were treated to a great set from James Rivers as a multi-reed musician first playing saxophone then bagpipes and finally flute. Mose Allison with quite a different style of entertainment gave the jazz tent audience an interesting set from the piano bench. While pianist Mose Allison was playing at the jazz tent trumpeter Gregg Stafford and his Young Tuxedo Brass Band were delighting Jazz lovers in the Economy Hall Tent when the second line paraded through the tent as some attendees joined in the march. Also, as Allison and Stafford were doing their thing on stage, Davell Crawford, pianist embellished the Congo Square Louisiana Rebirth Stage with his excitable style of performance Crawford grabs you right away and holds your attention with his energy, artistic abilities, and great vocals.
Meanwhile New Orleans native trumpeter Terence Blanchard gave an amazing set at the AT& / WWOZ Jazz Tent that gave his audience the perfect interpretation of Contemporary jazz, and the Southern Comfort Blues Tent audience was busy embracing Folk vocalist and guitarist Richie Havens. A legend in his own time a great saxophonist Pharoah Sanders who played in John Coltrane’s band graced the jazz tent with his presents. Sanders performed his beautiful style of modern jazz that thrilled his audience as he ended his set with a very energetic up beat selection, which had the jazz lovers on their feet interacting with every beat and sound of rhythm. Sanders and his quartet were loved so much they were brought back on stage for an encore Sanders is truly a living legend. Whereas, Vocalist Linda Hopkins, was busy at the economy tent with her own brand of jazz and blues. Hopkins born in Louisiana now resides in Southern California gave her audience one of the best jazz and blues set this festival has ever had to offer with her amazing range, vocals and stage presence.
During the second week of jazz fest the rain arrived, for about two hours, some festival attendees found them-selves knee deep in water. Seems the pumps couldn’t work fast enough to drain the rain water from the festival grounds. However, after the two hour down pour the weather remained cool, but clear and dry. The weather held nicely for the remainder of the festival and everyone was enjoying the moment with great food, cold drinks, good conversation, and plenty of fantastic music in just about every genre. Over at the AT&T WWOZ Jazz Tent Ellis Marsalis was beating down on all eighty-eight’s with such grace as the audience loved his lively up temple set. ZZ Top’s band played on the Acura Stage offered blues and rock while Walter "Wolfman" Washington & the Roadmasters gave you blues on the Southern Comfort Blues Stage.
How befitting it was for vocalist John Boutte to sing Randy Newman’s’ Louisiana song, "Louisiana Their Trying to Wash Away" in the jazz tent as festival attendees were wading in two feet of rain water. Again as usual a crowd favorite and great jazz vocalist Leah Chase never fails to please her jazz fans with wonderful songs and a beautiful personality. Roy Hargrove gave an incredible set with his big band and special guest Roberta Gambarini, as he orchestrated and improvised his way into greatness the originative trumpeter is always welcome and beloved at the jazz tent. The final day of the jazz festival was met with great weather and plenty of good music of many genres. Jazz pianist Harry Connick, Jr. on the Acura Stage, R&B vocalist Joss Stone on the Gentilly Stage and over at the blues tent performing was R&B vocalist Marva Wright and later blues vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Taj Mahal.
As the last day of the Jazz& heritage Festival was coming to an end two of New Orleans greats were to be honored at the AT&T / WWOZ Jazz Tent, clarinetist Alvin Batiste and drummer Bob French. Well, the time came and the tributes did take place, but Alvin Batiste would not be present he died in his sleep early that morning of an apparent heart attack. Batiste will be mourned and missed by many as well as celebrated by many for who he was and his accomplishments. His Students, Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Bob French along with many others helped celebrate the memory of Alvin Batiste that day in the jazz tent.