Jazz Fest in New Orleans- Let the Music Play On

By Ricky Richardson
Contributing Writer
New Orleans, LA.- Each year, part of a Springtime ritual, hundreds of thousands of music aficionados and foodies gather at the Fairgrounds to experience the culture that is the world-famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, presented by Shell. Jazz Fest is the unparalleled presentation of American roots music, international rhythms and of course, Louisiana culture that has made the festival endure and flourish for half a century.
This year’s edition was significant in that this was the first in person gathering after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The ‘R” word was thrown around throughout the festival. Return, rebirth, revival, re-ignited or re-emerged as it relates to the pandemic delayed hiatus. Regardless of how one views or expresses it, it all comes down to Jazz Fest is back, y’all!
I was fortunate to be in attendance for the first weekend of jazz fest. The weather Gods looked down favorably upon the festival. It was sunny, warm with a slight breeze. A thunderstorm moved through the area Sunday morning, resulting in a 30-minute delay of the opening of the gates.
Jazz enthusiasts were assured of a GT, not the Gin and tonic, that you were thinking. GT is for a good time, which we come to expect with the return of New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, presented by Shell, inside the WWOZ Jazz Tent. WWOZ is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival station, a community radio station currently operating out of the French Quarter in New Orleans. OZ as they are affectionally called is a listener-supported-volunteer-programmed radio station.
An overflow crowd filled up the WWOZ Jazz Tent and set-up around the outside perimeter. The group was thoroughly entertained with the sounds of Be-bop, straight-ahead jazz, swing, Afro-Cuban Jazz and Latin Jazz. This is the city that gave birth to America’s number one artform, jazz a century ago.
It does my heart good to know that the future of jazz is in good hands. Donald Harrison Jr., New Orleans Music Interns got to shine in the spotlight to open the show inside the WWOZ Jazz Tent.

The John Mahoney Big Band featuring Brian Blade presented our first dose of explosive big band jazz.

Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr., performed double duties, first leading the New Orleans Music Interns and performing a set of original tunes on the Congo Square Stage with his band.
Singer/songwriter Quiana Lynell was a real treat. She acquired new fans during her captivating performance and showcased her vocal stylings and vocal range. I could detect a tinge of Mahalia Jackson in her voice.

Arturo Sandoval revved up the crowd to closed out day one with a high-octane set of Latin Jazz. Arturo Sandoval talents were on full display as he sent a flurry of musical notes into the stratosphere on trumpet, tickled the ivories on keyboards and laid down spicy grooves on timbales.
Day one of Jazz Fest featured outstanding performances by Dawn Richard on the Congo Square Stage, Little Freddie King and Bombino, sensational, standout sets in the Blues Tent and Astral Project in WWOZ Jazz Tent.
The Crescent City is home to a large contingent of internationally known singers. Germaine Bazzle is an outstanding vocalist. She was superb as she entertained the attentive crowd with some classic jazz standards and originals.
The Trumpet Mafia opened their set with the theme from the Godfather. They worked the crowd into a frenzy featuring a rhythm section, two dozen plus trumpet players, a couple of trombone players and saxophonist.
The Cookers is an all-star band, each member is a standout leader in their own right. The band consist of Eddie Henderson, Donald Harrison Jr., David Weiss and George Cables, Cecil McBee and Bily Hart. Their set was the highlight of the afternoon.
Mem Shannon & The Membership performed in the Blues Tent, and Lakou Mizik of Haiti, was great on the Jazz and Heritage Stage.
The Blues Tent was rockin’ during the segment “The New Orleans Classic Recording Revue.” The crowd was taken on a musical journey featuring performances by Bobby Cure & The Poppa Stoppas, Al ‘Carnival Time’ Johnson, Wanda Rouzan, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry and The Dixie Cups. You can’t go wrong with a powerful lineup like this.
Alexey Marti turbo-charged the WWOZ Jazz Tent with an electrifying set of Afro-Cuban jazz to the delight of the global community of salseros dancing in and outside of the perimeter of the tent.

The late great musician, educator and mentor Ellis Marsalis was remembered with a celebratory set featuring members of his band, David Torkanowsky, Oscar Rossignoli, Shea Pierre, Jesse McBride and special guest Jason Marsalis.
The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnett, featuring vocalist Carmen Bradford, put the finishing touches on the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Grand Finale!
Gilberto Santa Rosa spiced up the gumbo of Jazz Fest with a serving of Salsa to the delight of the crowd gathered at the Congo Square Stage. WEPA!

Jazz Fest organizers honored three prolific world-renowned musicians throughout the weekend. Festival impresario George Wein, singer, songwriter, musician Dr. John and Ellis Marsalis, with an ancestral monument that was unveiled and on display in the Ancestors area near the Congo Square Stage. Members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performed during the program to honor George Wein, Jon Cleary performed during the ceremony for Dr. John, with words from his daughter, Karla. The program to honor Ellis Marsalis was postponed due to inclement weather.

The mission of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is to promote, preserve, perpetuate and encourage the music, arts, culture, and heritage of Louisiana. Approximately 85%- 90% of bands presented at Jazz Fest are active members of the Louisiana music community.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. the Foundation’s proceeds from Jazz Fest are used for year-round activities in the areas of education, economic development and cultural enrichment. Visit https://jazzzandheritage.org for more information on the Foundation.
I’m sure by now, you are growing tired of hearing your relatives, colleagues, friends or neighbors talking about what a great time that they had in New Orleans for Jazz Fest. Consider this a friendly reminder, the 52nd annual event will take place, April 28-May 7, 2023. For the most up to date Jazz Fest info, visit www.nojazzfest.com and sign up for the Newsletter to receive email alerts about Jazz Fest 2023.
“Laissez les bon temps rouler” “Let the good times roll!

By Ricky Richardson

Terence Blanchard, Arturo Sandoval, Nicholas Payton and Bettye LeVette to Perform at Jazz Fest in New Orleans
New Orleans, LA.- Spring will be here before you know it. This is exciting news for the global community of music aficionados. The highly anticipated lineup for the pandemic delayed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell was announced Thursday, January 20th. Social media platforms were buzzing for this awesome lineup. One can find something on the lineup to satisfy a multitude of musical taste.
YouTube announcement

Norah Jones, David Sandborn, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, The Newport All-Stars Celebrate George Wein Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue are just a few of the hundreds of artists that are scheduled to perform at this year’s Jazz Fest.
There is no denying that the beautiful city of New Orleans is the destination of choice for people seeking a GT, not Gin & Tonic (although this is debatable and negotiable). What I meant by GT is a GOOD TIME!
Locals and tourist alike fatefully and enthusiastically return to New Orleans each year for Jazz Fest, to partake of and celebrate the cuisine, music, and culture of the Crescent City. This year is significant, because we can all sing in harmony and in unison “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell has become an annual Springtime tradition for music lovers for over 50 years. Organizers consistently showcases a stellar lineup of musicians to entertain hundreds of thousands of international fans, who travel from all over the world to the wonderful city of New Orleans. No need to ‘Fest In Place’ attendees can experience Jazz Fest again, live and in person.
Jazz Fest consists of a variety of stages and tents that feature a smorgasbord of genres of music and performances, fest activities and even live demonstrations. Veterans and novice fest goers have the option of visiting multiple stages or camping out at one or more stages. The two main stages- Acura Stage and Gentilly Stage host the bigger name artists. Entertainment is also presented on the following stages: Congo Square Stage, Blues Tent, Gospel Tent, Jazz Tent, Kids Tent, The Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do Do Stage, Jazz & Heritage Stage, Allison Miner Music Heritage, Food Heritage Stage, Cajun Cabin, Economy Hall tent and Lagniappe Stage.
The additional incredible artists on the lineup are Irma Thomas, Buddy Guy, Tab Benoit, Tribute to Dr. John, Tribute to Bessie Smith, Dr. Michael White & The Original Liberty Jazz Band and Don Vappie & The Creole Jazz Band.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.nojazzfest.com, click on the various links at the top of page to familiarize yourself with everything Jazz Fest has to offer and to find answers on the FAQ page. Better yet, sign up for the Jazz Fest newsletter to be the first to know of updates.
Let the music marathon began, get your groove on at the 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell

By Ricky Richardson

The Leimert Park Jazz Festival returned on August 28, 2021. The festival was held outside on the upper deck parking lot of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The inaugural live and in-person celebration set the foundation for this to be a signature event and a destination festival for jazz aficionados and music lovers from all over the City, State, Country and Internationally. The event was re-branded as the Leimert Park Jazz Festival in 2020 and, due to COVID-19, it was presented as a virtual festival that premiered on Facebook Live and YouTube.

Nearly one thousand music lovers were in attendance for this awesome music festival to usher out the end of Summer. The audience consisted of a large multi-cultural, diverse crowd from all walks of life.

Word spread near and far about this year’s Leimert Park Jazz Festival, which is a celebration of jazz, community, and cultural heritage of Leimert Park. People arrived with enthusiasm and excitement by Metro buses and trains, cars and some even walked over to the venue.

The mission of the Leimert Park Jazz Festival is to build and strengthen community while celebrating and showcasing the artistic and cultural spirit of the historic Leimert Park neighborhood in South Los Angeles. Leimert Park Jazz Festival, will play an important role in ensuring the vibrant South LA community of Leimert Park remains culturally significant for years to come!

The weather Gods looked down favorably upon the festival. It was sunny and cool, without the usual summer heat and humidity.

LeRoy Down returned to host the Leimert Park Jazz Festival. Diane Robertson, the festival’s Executive Producer made welcome remarks and thanked everyone for attending the festival.

DJ Ad complimented the festivities. DJ Ad was on deck of the ones and twos, spinning global beats and classic R&B hits that had the audience dancing in between acts.

The festival got underway with a captivating performance from singer/songwriter Sy Smith. Sy Smith thrilled the crowd with her unique blend of funk, jazz and soul. Smith’s set featured the tunes “Free” by Deniece Williams, and yes, she hit all the high notes throughout the song. Sy continued with an original “Camelot,” from her latest CD, followed by “So in Love With You.” She added her unique vocal touch to “Feeling Good,” by Nina Simone, mixing in some funk, jazz and a dash of blues. She concluded her set with the classic ” Let’s Stay Together,” which has become a viral video recorded with the legendary Pete Escovedo.

Adaawe has performed extensively entertaining audience with enthusiasm, superb musicianship that is empowering. The crowd was feeling the upbeat vibration of world beat tunes performed by the group- “Waka Waka” by Fela Kuti, “Jingo” by Santana, along with “Siriya,” “Yankadi” and concluded with “Amampondo” by Miriam Makeba.

Dwight Trible, singer/songwriter extraordinaire sent lyrics high up into the stratosphere with his tight band. “Little Sunflower,” and “Its All About Love” were the highlights from his brief set. The crowd felt the love and rewarded Dwight Trible with a standing ovation.

Katalyst Collective, The Azar Lawrence Experience, Jose Rizo’s Mongorama and Albert “Tootie” Heath with Jacques Lesure contributed splendid sets to ensure that this year’s festival left a lasting memory for the audience.

Diane Robertson, Executive Producer of the Leimert Park Jazz Festival should be applauded for her leadership and vision for the growth of the festival. 10th District Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas acknowledged and recognized her commitment and dedication by presenting her with a Congratulatory Certificate on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. The Leimert Park Jazz Festival sprouted out from the Sutro Avenue Summer Soiree, an annual community block party that began in 2015 on a residential street in Leimert Park that drew a culturally diverse, family-friendly audience. A jazz stage was added to the soiree in 2018 and 2019 and was enthusiastically received by guests. For more information
visit: https//www.leimertparkjazzfestival.com