Review of "Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story": an event with a unique flavor

As demonstrated in movies as diverse as “Monterey Pop,” “Woodstock” and “Summer of Soul,” music festivals can’t help but derive some of ...


As demonstrated in movies as diverse as “Monterey Pop,” “Woodstock” and “Summer of Soul,” music festivals can’t help but derive some of their vibe from their sets. As witnessed by musicians around the world in the documentary “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story,” directed by Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern, the city’s annual jazz festival in Louisiana has an unrepeatable flavor as it takes place in the cradle American music.

The film’s opening montage, featuring familiar famous faces ranging from Tom Jones to Pitbull, is – thankfully – a bit of a fake. These big names and others play (and in what some might consider an unfortunate feature, Jimmy Buffett plays a lot) but the film is dutifully attentive to the local eclecticism of the festival.

Exploring the musical atmosphere of New Orleans itself, the film features experts exposing the distinctions between Cajun and Zydeco, for example. While both are dance music that trades in old melodies, the latter features electric guitar and washboard and comes at you “like a freight train.”

Entrepreneur George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, helped create Jazz Fest, wisely assuming musician Ellis Marsalis (you may be familiar with the pianist’s work, or that of his sons, including Wynton and Branford) as a guide to New Orleans. The organizational work was quickly taken over by young music enthusiast Quint Davis, who is still in charge today.

The seething history – which also cites the on-site food tents as a jaw-dropping part of the festival’s appeal – turns to tears when Hurricane Katrina decimates New Orleans in 2005. But the the music came back like a miracleand the film reports that after a two-year postponement due to Covid-19, the event is currently on the comeback trail.

Jazz Fest: A History of New Orleans
Rated PG-13 for sassy little language. Duration: 1h34. In theaters.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Review of "Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story": an event with a unique flavor
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