This story presents some illuminating historic debunkery, plus a couple of difficult sixth-grade mathematical equations that can as soon as and for all reply the questions “Was the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Pageant ever actually a jazz pageant?” and “Is jazz fest much less jazzy than it was?”
When the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Pageant introduced that the buoyant pop diva Katy Perry had been added to the 2019 lineup, it infuriated purists who felt that Perry belongs on the Honest Grounds like guacamole belongs in gumbo. What does the California-born “American Idol” panelist should do with jazz in any case?
You may as effectively e-book Adam Levine when you’re at it. Or Up With Individuals for mercy’s sake? Proper? Properly, right here’s the factor. Adam Levine and Up With Individuals have each carried out at Jazz Fest. Primarily based on a perusal of 49 previous Jazz Fest applications, the reality is, the jazz fest has by no means been purely the province of jazz. The very first fest in 1970 included tents dedicated to blues, Cajun, gospel and road music.
Right here’s an inventory of just some non-jazzy interlopers which have popped in over time.
1970 – Certain, the alpha pageant featured bona fide jazz headliners Duke Ellington, Al Hirt and Pete Fountain. However the fest additionally starred gospel nice Mahalia Jackson, the funk grasp Meters and zydeco star Clifton Chenier. All three acts stood solidly below the “heritage” umbrella, however you realize in your coronary heart that as quickly because the Meters struck up the primary bar of “Hen Strut,” some dour turtle neck-wearing beatnik who didn’t dig the cackling guitar riff first uttered the immortal phrases: “You name that jazz?” 1973 – Heaven is aware of everyone loves Stevie Surprise, however didn’t the looks of the Detroit R&B phenom sully the exclusivity of the phrases “jazz and heritage” as soon as and for all? A Jazz Fest insider informed me that at the least one letter of protest from a purist adopted Stevie’s inclusion within the lineup. 1974 – Stevie was simply the beginning. A 12 months later, Gladys Knight and the Pips fortunately took followers on a midnight practice to Georgia, but it surely rolled proper over the presumption of jazz exclusivity but once more, in addition to Crescent Metropolis centricity. 1978 – In response to this system, Up With Individuals, a choral group meant to be an antidote to hedonistic hippiedom, delivered their message of uncomplicated optimism to Gentilly. 1980 – All people dance! Disco got here to Jazz Fest with the looks of Stylish. Additionally, the immeasurably cool Gil Scott-Heron had begun blazing the path towards rap. 1982 – Rita Marley flew the reggae flag on the fest. 1986 – Miami Sound Machine introduced us greetings from the land of white sand and sockless Don Johnson. 1987 – The fest returned to its roots with Kenny G. 1994 – Grateful Useless alumnus Bob Weir planted the seeds of the jam band phenomenon on the infield. Phish sprouted up in 1996. 1998 – Former French Quarter busker and trop rock maestro Jimmy Buffett set a fest attendance file. The early 21st Century has been the triumph of the Child Growth. The non-jazz affiliated headliners included everybody from Robert Plant, to Crosby Stills and Nash, to Patti Smith, to Bob Dylan, to Lionel Richie, to Bruce Springsteen, to Billy Joel, to Simon and Garfunkel, to Bon Jovi to Aerosmith –none of whom stylistically descend from Buddy Bolden. 2015 – Woman Gaga appeared, crooning with Tony Bennett. 2019 – To rejoice the 50th anniversary, the fest landed the world-renowned Rolling Stones, who introduced a wave of pleasure plus renewed criticism that the fest had strayed from its mission but once more. The Stones had been subsequently compelled to cancel, however not as a result of they didn’t play jazz.
(Photograph by ‘Dylan’ James Stansbury)
So, we’ve established that the fest has at all times featured an amalgam of musical kinds, however didn’t it was extra jazzy? The NOLA.com leisure division deployed its complete analytic group (me and a pencil) to reply that query. In case you simply need the outcomes of our tried arithmetic, scroll forward to the highlighted emboldened phrases “So meaning.” If you’d like but extra scintillating historic backstory, preserve studying.
In 1972, the fest moved from what’s now Armstrong Park to the Honest Grounds. This system divided the leisure up by sort.
Jazz has 11 entries: Olympia, Eureka, & Tuxedo Brass Bands, Lou Sino & the Bengals, James Rivers, Porgy Jones, Okay id Sheik, Fairview Christian Ma’rching Band, Santo Pecora, Tony Fougerat, Al Belletto Quartet, Southern College (B.R.) Jazz Band Blues has eight entries: Roosevelt Sykes, Fred McDowell, Robert Pete Williams, Clifton Chenier, Babe Stovall, Percy Randolph, Silas Hogan’s Baton Rouge Blues Band that includes Guitar Kelly, Massive Joe Williams Soul has 5 entries: Willie Tee and the Gators, Professor Longhair, Snooks Eaglin, Margie Joseph, Deacon John Nation/Cajun has 5 entries: Meyers Bros. Bluegrass Boys, Allen Fontenot & the Nation Cajuns, Hubert Davis and the Season Vacationers, The All-Star Mamou Cajun Band Gospel has eight entries: Zion Harmonizers, Gospel Inspirations, Anne Pavageau and Choir, Ott Singers, Youth In- spirational Choir, Sister Gertrude Morgan, New Orleans Spiritualettes, Macedonia Male Choir “Different” has three entries: Mardi Gras Indians, Bongo Joe, Othar Turner & The Ridding Stars Particular visitors has three entries; two had been jazz: Jimmy Smith, B.B. King, Giants of Jazz After hours live shows on the S.S. President, the Roosevelt Resort, the Jung Resort and the Municipal auditorium consists of 28 entries, 26 of which had been jazz: Papa French & The Authentic Tuxedo Orchestra, Preservation Corridor Jazz Band, Roosevelt Sykes, George Finola Sextet, Armand Hug, Raymond Burke, Wallace Davenport Storyville Jazz Band, Ronnie Kole, Wild Invoice Davidson, Barney Bigard, Candy Emma, Percy Humphrey Sextet, Murphy Campo Sextet, New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, The Louis Cottrell Orchestra, Bob Greene’s Tribute To Jelly Roll, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Artwork Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Al McKibbon, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, Kai Winding, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Tuxedo Brass Band, Mardi Gras Indians
In order that signifies that in 1972, the Jazz Fest had 39 jazz reveals out of 68 whole. Which suggests it was 57 % jazz.
By my depend, in 2019 there will probably be 484 whole Jazz Fest reveals on the most important levels, of which 111 are jazz. Which signifies that the 2019 Jazz Fest will probably be solely 23 % jazz. Which is lower than half as a lot jazz as 1972. So Jazz Fest is rather a lot much less jazzy. Positively!
Or not. The figures additionally show that there will probably be virtually thrice extra jazz reveals in 2019 (111) than there have been in 1972 (39). In order that settles it, Jazz Fest is much more jazzy too.
Since this story was so historic-ish and scientific-ish, there are even footnotes:
Footnote 1: I really like Katy Perry and I don’t care what anyone thinks. I can’t look ahead to her to sing “I Kissed a Lady” Footnote 2: I singled out Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine for ridicule, due to his cringe-y efficiency on the cringe-y 2019 Tremendous Bowl and since he’s a tv singing contest choose identical to Katy Perry. He appeared on the 2013 and 2017 Jazz Fests. Footnote three: Woman Gaga and Tony Bennett had been type of jazzy, however nonetheless. Footnote four: I didn’t embrace the youngsters tent in my numerical tally of musical performances, as a result of it didn’t appear to suit, although there’s an act known as Scat with Ms. Kat. Footnote 5: Of the 147 infield parades and smaller reveals within the AARP Rhythmpourium and the Cultural Change Pavillion deliberate for 2019, 17 (11.5%) are jazz. Footnote 6: I counted The Pinettes, Trombone Shorty, Bonerama and some others as jazz acts, although they type of aren’t. Van Morrison too. Footnote 7: I take into account jam bands to be jazzy as a result of they revere improvisation. Identical with rappers. And Tank and the Bangas. However I didn’t depend them. Footnote eight: I used to be a liberal arts main and don’t usually belief myself to determine percentages, so anyone examine my math.
Footnote 9: Doug MacCash has the perfect job on the planet, protecting artwork, music and tradition in New Orleans. Contact him by way of electronic mail at email@example.com. Comply with him on Instagram at dougmaccash, on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Fb at Douglas James MacCash. As at all times, please add your standpoint to the remark stream.