JazzFest Sunday: The Tradition Carried On

Posted: April 25th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music | Tags: | 1 Comment »

jz1imagesThere’s a hole in the festival this year.

Allen Toussaint is gone.

Of all the incredible, important, influential artists from this town, the ones so infused with the spirit force of New Orleans music that it permeates most all their output, Toussaint was the most notable.

I sadly note that, in a year when a lot of artists are acknowledging the passing of Prince or other beloved musicians — the subdudes memorialized an influence, Papa Dooky Edwards — I haven’t yet heard a mention of Toussaint’s passing.

(Of course, since I can only be at one stage at a time, it doesn’t mean, there weren’t shout outs. And there’s a whole set of tribute for him on the final Sunday.)

So, it was a relief, and a great pleasure, to hear Henry Butler & Jambalaya’s set at Congo Square.

It was seriously New Orleans-centric.

A couple of tunes into his set, Butler said “It’s time for something from the Allen Toussaint song book.”

Then he played a lovely rendition of “Freedom for the Stallion,” one of my favorite Toussaint tunes, and one of his more obscure ones.

“Oh Lord, you got to help us find a way.”

Butler, one of the great NO piano masters extant, sang a self penned tune, explaining how much Longhair meant to him.

“Oh Professor/ You brought me so much joy/ Loving your music since I was a baby boy.”

And he played “Iko Iko” and “Big Chief” (with a bravissimo intro) and “Goin’ to Mardi Gras” and “Workin’ in a Coalmine,” the intro of which sounded like it might have been “Sittin’ in Ya Ya,” another delicious, oh so Crescent City delicacy.

And some blues.

And a whole lot of unique piano, with fills and solos, that respected the tradition but extrapolated from them into some playing, marvelously unique.

Sometimes Butler can play sets that are somewhat, let’s say, out there, disengaged from the music’s source. Not Sunday.

He missed last year’s Fest due to health issues, but expressed his genuine gratitude for being back, by sharing what was in essence a modern day New Orleans musical primer.

All in all, it was just what I wanted and needed.

 * * * * *

The Garifuna Collective from Belize (the featured Caribbean country this JazzFest) were/was wonderful.

Lilting percussion and harmonious guitar.

Consequentially danceable. Which is what was happening to all that fell under the group’s spell at the Heritage Stage.

 * * * * *

Favorite t-shirt of the day:

On the back: “OSS The holy spirit will come upon you, the power of the most high will overshadow you: And for that reason the holy offspring shall be called The Son of Onsomeshit”

You tell me, I got no clue?

 * * * * *

LeRoy Jones & New Orleans Finest held court with traditional tuneage on the Economy Hall stage.

A lovely version of “Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”

Jones said he’s been playing JazzFest, “since I was 13 years old in 1971, in a church band with Danny Barker.”

 * * * *  *

I opened the day, as I try to always do on Sundays at the Fest, in the Gospel Tent.

The Rocks of Harmony and Electrifying Crown Seekers both do classic call and response, let’s get up and dance and shout for Jesus gospel.

It’s hard not to fall under their spell, even for a Hebrew like me. During Passover no less.

 * * * * *

Today I rest.

— c d kaplan

One Comment on “JazzFest Sunday: The Tradition Carried On”

  1. 1 Slim Hormone said at 3:02 pm on April 26th, 2016:

    Cowboy Mouth opened their set with a shout out to Prince.

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