By Taylor Bennett
Being ‘saturated in sound’ took on a whole new meaning during Week One of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2015. Expecting to be awash in tunes, the heavens also opened up and drowned out a bit of the music but did not dampen the spirit.
Attending the Festival was so much more than just enjoying some of the world’s most renowned and talented musicians; it was also a celebration of southern soul that lives down on the Bayou showing up in not only their music but their food, architecture and festivities.
A Festival tradition; the Charlie Parker Quartet with Victor Goines performed cool Jazzy Blues standards like ‘Summertime’ and unveiled an awe-inspiring surprise when Ellis Marsalis (Winton’s father) took to the stage and drove the crowd to the edge of their seats as he played a special duet written at 2 am, the morning of the performance.
Not only did the festival demonstrate many of the best southern blues and Louisiana-style jazz but displayed grand performances from the haunting sounds of Hozier to the inspiring country music of Keith Urban to the alternative rock band Wilco and Jimmy Cliff’s Reggae beats to the iconic tunes of The Who and John Legend’s velvety voice to the legendary Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer band, and of course the dynamic duo of Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett. The diversity of genres and great music was magical but the deluges from super cells were legendary and stopped several of the performances dead in their tracks.
One such casualty was ‘Snarky Puppy’ who played in their usual stellar space jazzy grooves that perhaps stirred the Gods and churned up the violent thunderstorms causing the festival to evacuate everyone halfway through their set.
As many festival goers have been influenced by The Allman Brothers Band it was a thrilling experience listening to Derek Trucks (former member of the Allman Bros. Band) and his wife Susan that make up the Tedeschi Trucks band. They played flawlessly, leaving everyone raving about the performance for days.
During the Festival one could feel the calming spirits exude a sense of peace and belonging only heightened by the rush of exceptional music, vibrating down to your very soul. The southern hospitality and comfort food was extraordinary as the audience was enlightened in the arts giving a transcendental quality to the entire experience.
The food stands were like consuming the cuisine of a 3 star Michelin restaurant; delicious soft shell po boys, incredible crawfish gumbo and many more delicacies that drew festival goers to their tables, offering the best that New Orleans has to offer.
The Festival and New Orleans as a total experience (but that’s another story) opened my eyes to their wonderful life of music, passion and spirituality that can only take place in the deep south. A must experience for those who enjoy the magic of music and don’t mind sharing it with large crowds, should book 2016 early!
For more information visit www.nojazzfest.com