With clear skies and cool temperatures, a stellar lineup drew big crowds to Jazz Fest Saturday. Some of the muddy spots on the infield looked like sinkholes, and fans appropriated space on the track at all the large stages.
In the WWOZ Jazz Tent, Terence Blanchard and his stellar band, including drummer Kendrick Scott and Cuban pianist Fabian Almazon and saxophonist Brice Winston, played songs off their most recent Blue Note release Magnetic. The album includes songs composed by various members of the band, and Almazon's "Pet Step Sitter's Theme Song" was one of the more interesting numbers, starting off with a long and discordant piano solo before the band joined into a more swinging tune. Blanchard is turning guest appearances by his children into a feature of his set, and his son Terence Blanchard Jr. sang "When Will You Call" off of the elder Blanchard's album Choices.
The much anticipated Fleetwood Mac set delivered in many ways. Though previous reunion tours have been plagued by drama, just like some of the band's early recording days, the two hour and 20 minute set seemed rather harmonious interpersonally for the band and pretty solid for fans.
Even visually, it was sort of a spectacle. Stevie Nicks is known for a certain mode of dress, involving a lot of flowing layers and scarves, etc., and her outfit was sort of tame. Black, yes. Flowing with wing-like accouterments, yes. But not nearly as many scarves as Steven Tyler. And no significant costume changes. Mick Fleetwood had a rather full drum kit, complete with two levels of long dangles of chimes and a very large gong and complementary mallet. Lindsey Buckingham seemed to anchor the band, at times playing solo acoustically when Nicks disappeared, and at times espousing various business and personal philosophies. At one point, he noted that a formula for success is "If it works, run it into the ground." He said that's not a good idea for artistic success, which turned out to be an introduction for songs from the not particularly successful album Tusk.
In more than two hours, the band had plenty of ground to cover, and it started and stopped with the best of Rumours. It opened with "Second Hand News," "The Chain," and "Dreams," and spread other songs throughout the set, including "Gold Dust Woman," and closer, "Don't Stop." Buckingham seemed to direct traffic, at times playing solo. Nicks' voice is a bit more gravelly but still quite capable.
The set also included new music, including the decent new song "Sad Angel" off the recently released EP.
They also played a song from a never released second album from Buckingham Nicks.
And the set ended with some post scripts from both Nicks and Fleetwood. Nicks thanked fans for listening for 35 years and asked them to to "Save the world."
It was a hard day to decide what stage to finish at. Phoenix sounded great, and though lead singer Thomas Mars kept saying that he was singing the last song of the set, he seemed more interested in getting into the crowd to sing to those surrounding him or crowd surf. The surfing was quickly ended as fans seemed eager to whisk him or his clothes away. The band left the stage at 6:40 and didn't return, so maybe he had meant it.
Frank Ocean packed the the Congo Square Stage, and that set also ended early. But the Fair Grounds were still full, and many seemed to go home pleased.