New Orleans

Dr. John
NPR

The music world lost one of its unique performers this week with the passing of New Orleans legendary pianist Dr. John.

In this year of big jazz centennials — 100 candles for Ella, Monk and Dizzy, and for the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s first recordings — it’s easy to overlook an event that once loomed large over jazz history: the closing of New Orleans’ open-prostitution district Storyville, under pressure from the wartime U.S. Navy, which couldn’t keep its sailors away from the place.  

Ang Santos / WBGO

There’s a lot of common ground between Newark and New Orleans.  Both the largest metropolitan areas in their respective state’s.  Both majority minority communities with a history of poverty and crime.

“America since the 1950’s and 60’s underinvested in its cities primarily because of the issue of race.”

Marc Morial is the president of The National Urban League and two term mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002.

At 46, Ben Jaffe is almost exactly the same age as Jazz Fest. Like a lot of New Orleans natives, he has memories of the annual event stretching back to childhood, though his experience is a little more rarefied than most. "That's where I got to sit on Fats Domino's lap and then hear him play," he says. "It's where I heard Allen Toussaint play for the first time as a child.

Jean Marc Lubrano

Two brilliant pianists. Two ebullient Cubans. Two intrepid young Englishmen. Two lovable standards, in new colors. The math may not seem to add up in this edition of Take Five, but the music — five winning tracks from as many different acts — most certainly does. (But who's counting, anyway?)

Trombone Shorty has never made a secret of his affinity with New Orleans: the man and the milieu are inextricable, in musical as well as attitudinal terms. So it’s no surprise that the first single from his forthcoming Blue Note Records debut is a revamped classic from his hometown, “Here Come the Girls.”

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Danny Clinch

Buried somewhere in the fathoms of YouTube is a recent clip of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, apparently filmed with a smartphone in Santiago de Cuba. The band, synonymous with the ebullient spirit of New Orleans, is playing a staple of its book, Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras." What's notable about this version of the song, from December of 2015, is the punchy assist provided by some Cuban percussionists, who fall right into step with its second-line groove. 

John Boutté
Jazz Night in America

Jazz vocalist John Boutté feels he can no longer afford to live in his hometown of New Orleans. He's not alone. Rising housing costs are pushing many musicians and service workers — the backbone of New Orleans' tourism economy — further and further outside the city limits. This suburbanization of the working class poses more than an inconvenience: It's fraying the culture of New Orleans and splintering the very neighborhoods that have nurtured the city's music for decades.