Jazzfest reunites New Orleans | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 1, 2006

Jazzfest reunites New Orleans

Posted By on Mon, May 1, 2006 at 4:18 PM

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This past weekend was the first weekend of Jazzfest in New Orleans, and it featured Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock and Elvis Costello. Even if you've never been to Jazzfest before, you might enjoy this review of the weekend, which relates the emotional atmosphere of this year's event.

But the heart of the festival wasn't in the visiting stars: not in Mr. Springsteen's set, or in having the Edge, U2's guitarist, jamming with the Dave Matthews Band, as he did on Saturday.

Jazzfest's essence was in the gathering of a 50-woman choir from the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, which sustained $9 million in damage and now holds services for part of its congregation in Houston, part in Baton Rouge and part in New Orleans. Some choir members had not seen one another since the hurricane. They, and other performers at the festival, kept saying, "It's like a reunion."

The Mahogany Brass Band was playing for its first time since the storm, and it was the first time all its members — dispersed as far as Phoenix and San Francisco — had seen one another. Brice Miller, its leader, started a strikingly emotional "St. James Infirmary" alone as a tearful solo trumpet dirge; when he sang the lyrics, about seeing a lover's dead body, he interjected, "My baby's New Orleans!"

Jazzfest continues next weekend.

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