This extraordinary documentation displays, through photographs, the evolution of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which in New Orleans has become a seasonal ritual comparable only to the revelry of Mardi Gras. Dividing the book into four sections spanning five-year periods, photographer Michael P. Smith compiled a running history of Jazz Fest from its first year, when it drew a crowd of only several hundred people to a small site in Congo Square, up through its third decade and its present thirty-five-acre site on the Fair Grounds Race Course.
Captured as never before are such musical greats as Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, and Bonnie Raitt, as well as lesser-known but well-remembered performers such as the Como Fife and Drum Corps, the Meters, and Big Joe Williams.
The philosophy of Jazz Fest has always been to create “an environment where people could communicate with the musicians on a conversational level, and feel as if they had touched them” while preserving the musical forms that have developed in Louisiana. A combination of jazz, blues, gospel, rock, the traditional Louisiana sounds of Cajun and Zydeco, and the African/Caribbean/French sounds that were the basis for forms such as Reggae, the festival is truly a rare celebration of musical culture in general. The continuous change in the composition of the Jazz Fest makes this collection a vital historical document.
About the Author
Michael P. Smith was a veteran Jazz Fest photographer. His two other books on the music of New Orleans, Jazz Fest Memories and A Joyful Noise: A Celebration of New Orleans Music, are both published by Pelican, as are his titles Mardi Gras Indians and Spirit World: Pattern in the Expressive Folk Culture of African-American New Orleans.
Ben Sandmel is a New Orleans–based journalist, folklorist, drummer, and producer. His articles about Louisiana music have appeared in national publications, and he has worked for the Louisiana Folklife Program as a field researcher and writer documenting traditional music and occupational folklore. He produces the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage, an oral history venue at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ FEST A Pictorial History
By Michael P. Smith
Foreword by Ben Sandmel
208 pp. 8½ x 11
427 Photos - Index
ISBN: 9780882898100 hc