Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Jazz Fest

My one and only day at the fest this year began in the afternoon with a stroll through the Congo Square area after saying hello to a few folks. I tried, unsuccessfully, to enter the Jazz Tent and decided to try another area of the Fairgrounds since there was still a while yet before I would see the band I had gone out that day to hear.

George French was playing over at the Economy Hall tent, so after a brief stop at the Blues tent, I hiked out across the field to see what he was up to - musically that is.

Economy Hall is different in design from the other tents with stages at the festival in that it is outfitted with a slightly raised dance floor. There are several diehards who attend regularly and bring their second line umbrellas to dance through the audience conga line style, only with a New Orleans flair.

It was a soggy mess throughout much of the Fairgrounds after all the rain in the days preceding, but thankfully under the tent on Sunday it was more like standing on damp beach. A few yards away it was another story.

Back on the asphalt and headed to the Jazz tent once again, I took a quick peek at the artists in the Contemporary Crafts area. More pretty dresses - these were from Maureen Roberts and Michael Lubim.

The piece all the way in the back of the booth on the right is what caught my eye - something about it reminded me of Frieda Kahlo. The art here is from Jenny Mendes and Mark Roegner.

Spotted in the crowd -- Allen Toussaint was pausing for a photo with an excited fan. Good thing I was walking around with my camera on my wrist, right? 

Outside the Jazz Tent once again I was trying to decide where would be the best point of entry when I look up and directly in front of me is the phenomenal Brian Blade, my reason for being at the festival that afternoon. After a bit of shrieking, laughing, and hugging, he introduced me to his lovely, almost newlywed wife, Lurah. An accomplished drummer, Brian was there to perform with Wayne Shorter.

Backstage at the Jazz Tent is like an annual reunion. Locals, visitors, musicians, friends, family members, photographers, Foundation personnel... For many people, it's the only time they really get to see each other. It really becomes sort of a social time for the musicians as well, especially the ones who are crossing paths while traveling around.

So many people in these next photos... How about just a few highlights from people actually facing the camera or in profile? Bill Summers (in the white cap), Jason Marsalis (behind Bill); Ellis Marsalis (white hat, 2nd photo), Jack Hopke (talking to Jason)... Derck Douget, Rex Gregory, and Matt Dillon (all in the third photo).

Marlon Jordan and Jackie Harris; Irvin Mayfield... and then, Wayne Shorter.

Nicholas Payton... Brian Blade and Deacon John... and then Eric Waters photographing Brian and Deac.

Up until I'd run into Brian, I could have easily gone home. That's one of the things about living in New Orleans, there is so much music and so much going on all the time, it wears on you. (Not to mention it's hard to hang out when I should be home writing).

Hearing the Wayne Shorter Quartet, on the other hand (Danilo Perez, John Pattitucci, and Brian blade), is a nice treat that makes the trekking through all the mud, muck and mire (not to mention the barnyard smells) completely worth it.

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