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.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation named its music education center under construction at 1225 N. Rampart St. The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center.
“I always thought about buying a home in New Orleans because I am here so much,” Wein said at the press conference. “Now I have a permanent address here.”
In the 1950s, Wein created the Newport jazz and folk festivals, which became the prototypes for festivals featuring a lineup of multiple top musical talents. Eventually, he applied a similar formula to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival initiated in Congo Square in 1970. It featured Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson and many New Orleans jazz and brass bands.
In 44 years, it has grown to become one of the premier music and cultural festivals in the world. At the press conference marking the dedication to the Weins, Festival Productions President Quint Davis, who worked with Wein from the first festival, said that it has created an economic impact on the city in the billions of dollars.
New Orleans tourism officials first approached Wein about creating a jazz festival in New Orleans in 1962, but they dropped plans when he noted Duke Ellington would not be allowed to stay in the city’s segregated finer hotels. Wein’s marriage to Joyce, who was African American, was also a concern. “If I’d have brought her in 1962, they’d have put us in jail,” Wein said at the press conference. Officials approached Wein again in 1969, and his first Jazz Fest was held in 1970 in Congo Square, then called Beauregard Square.
Besides promoting jazz the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and festival are important institutions in the city. Former foundation board president Bill Rousselle said, “He created a cultural institution in New Orleans where black and white people were on equal footing.”
The foundation’s education center will house seven classrooms and a 200-seat theater.
Noah Bonaparte Pais made his regular Thursday stop on the WWL Eyewitness Morning News and brought Eric Paulsen a music-heavy selection of Gambit weekend picks for the second weekend of Jazz Fest. (Bonus: they talk Mud — the Matthew McConaughey movie, not the kind currently pooling on the track at the Fair Grounds.)
If you can't make it to the Fair Grounds, there still are some options to enjoy music from Jazz Fest. WWOZ 90.7 FM always broadcasts from the festival. Today, it will broadcast the Woodshed Hammond B3 set featuring Kyle Roussel and Joe Ashlar, Glen David Andrews' Blues Tent performance and Roy Ayers closing slot in the WWOZ Jazz Tent. OZ's full schedule for the second weekend is here.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there are two more options. Tunein.com will be broadcasting live from Jazz Fest May 3-5. (One can also listen to WWOZ on Tunein.) Tunein.com's Jazz Fest Radio is here. There also is a free Tunein Jazz Fest app.
There will be video broadcasts from the festival on axs.tv as well. Programming includes sets filmed from the previous four days as well. Broadcasts are from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday. The Jazz Fest page is here.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival announced some schedule changes on its two largest stages for Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5. On Saturday, Fleetwood Mac's start time moves up from 5:10 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. Little Big Town also moves up 30 minutes (from 3:10 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.) and the earlier shows move up by shorter increments.
On Sunday at the Gentilly Stage, Hall & Oates' start time moves up from 4 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., and Irma Thomas' set begins at 2 p.m. instead of 2:10 p.m. There are also minor adjustments to every act on the Acura Stage except Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue's closing set.
To view all changes, find our updated schedules and previews of the second weekend performances here.
During the two week period of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, there are plenty of benefit concerts that support musicians, education and more. Many are described here. There are two well established benefit concerts tonight. WWOZ 90.7 FM holds its annual Piano Night at the House of Blues, and the Tipitina's Foundation hosts Instruments A Comin' at the Uptown club.
Other benefits this week include:
- The Threadhead Foundation holds a fundraiser at the Old Iron Works Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Performers include Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, CC Adcock and the Lafayette Marquis with members of Lil' Band O' Gold, and many others. Food and drink is included. Tickets are $75 and must be purchased in advance.
- The Ponderosa Stomp and New Orleans Musicians Clinic host the Naughty Nurse Prom 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, and proceeds go to the clinic. Entertainment is by Little Freddie King and Guitar Lightnin' Lee. Tickets $20-$45.
- Shorty Fest, raises funds for Trombone Shorty's Foundation, which supports music education. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue are joined by Cha Wa, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band and others. The event starts at 8 p.m. Thursday at Generations Hall. Proceeds benefit the foundation.
- Down on the Bayou IV is headlined by Dr. John, actor/comedian Harry Shearer, Jo Jo Herman of Widespread Panic, Marcia Ball, Col. Bruce Hampton, New Orleans Suspects, Jon Gros and others. The entertainment starts at 9 p.m. Thursday at Republic. Proceeds benefit the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 on the day of the show.
- Rock 'N' Hops combines craft beer and music to benefit MusiCares. The event is at 8 p.m. Saturday at NOLA Brewing. The lineup features The Breton Sound, Coyotes, Andrew Duhon and others. Tickets include all-you-can drink NOLA Brewing beer. Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
- On Friday, Fiya Fest features music, boiled crawfish and drinks at Mardi Gras World, and proceeds benefit Roots of Music. The lineup includes Karl Denson and the Dirty Dozen Horns, Dr. KLAW (Eric Krasno, Ian Neville, Adam Deitch and others), GABE (George Porter, Anders Osborne, Billy Iuso and Eric Bolivar), Dragon Smoke and others. The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders will perform a short set. Music goes from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $80.
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