April Is Jazz Appreciation Month: New Orleans: The City That Gave Birth to Jazz

    Jazz Appreciation Month Poster: Courtesy Photo

    *How time flies. It is hard to believe that we have reached the first quarter, the fourth month of the year. April is an exciting time of the year, with its pleasant spring weather.

    This could mean only one thing; festival season has sprung. Get ready for a smorgasbord of concerts, events, and festivals taking place throughout the Crescent City of New Orleans.

    April Is Jazz Appreciation Month
    April is Jazz Appreciation Month, (aka, “JAM”) was created to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz for the entire month of April. Jazz Appreciation Month is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz in some form- to study jazz, attend concerts, listen to jazz on the radio, internet, and jazz recordings, read books about jazz and more. The 2023 theme is “Jazzed About Miles Davis.”

    You should be aware that the festival has started to blossom if you are traveling through New Orleans from April to October and beyond for business or leisure.  You can’t go far without seeing some talented musicians performing outdoors all around town.

    History of Jazz Plaque: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

    One can listen to jazz and many popular genres of music on the radio 24/7. The go-to station in New Orleans is WWOZ 90.7 FM or streaming online at https://www.wwoz.org or visit https://www.wwoz.org/schedule to view the programs and host playing your favorite music. Another excellent idea is downloading the App so that you can take ‘OZ wherever you go either on the road or at the office. If you are in town, check out “Live Wire” to find out where to go to listen to live music (jazz and blues), at many of the venues. There are many options available for live music, seven days a week. There is a popular saying “Jazz Made in America; Enjoyed by the World.” Jazz is America’s #1 Artform.

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    Irma Thomas, File Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson

    You don’t have to travel far in order to listen to or discover jazz and blues recordings. I invite you to visit your parent’s basement or attic. Please walk gently as to not set off the motion sensor guarding your parent’s prized vintage collection of LPs. Permission to pause for the cause so that the younger readers can Google search LPs.

    If you want to start your own collection, there is a wide selection of LPs, CDs, and DVDs to be found at garage sales, online, thrift stores, and estate sales. Another excellent resource is a record store. Locally, Louisiana Music Factory is the go-to store for all things music in New Orleans.  The knowledgeable and friendly staff can assist you in your search and recommend some artists to check out. https://www.louisianamusicfactory.com.

    To increase your knowledge and appreciation of jazz and blues, visit your local libraries. The courteous and professional staff at the New Orleans Library on Loyola Avenue can also assist you in your research and offer some recommendations.  Libraries are a valuable resource to read about jazz.  You can also purchase books about jazz online, and from your local bookstore.

    Look no further than your family tree for great stories about the history of jazz music, musicians, festivals, concerts, and venues, etc. There is a good chance that someone in your extended family was/is a professional musician or a patron of the local music scene.

    Wanda Rouzan File Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson

    The Future of Jazz

    The future of jazz looks bright in the city that gave birth to jazz. To be fair, many young men and women are studying jazz and many genres of music at many of the institutes of higher learning and music academies. The staff personnel at these institutes are dedicated to the student’s success regardless of what genre of music the students pursue. These are just a few of many institutes to further one’s study in music: NOLA School of Music, Ellis Marsalis Center for Music and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, The George and Joyce Wein & Heritage Center and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, in addition to the local universities.

    Festivals of Note

    The following two festivals are proof positive that the music season is in full bloom. If you don’t already know, one can find not only jazz and blues, but a plethora of genres of music that Louisiana in general and New Orleans, in particular, is a great draw for locals, and national and international tourists seeking to indulge in the culture.

    The French Quarter Festival is celebrating four decades of mouthwatering cuisine, a stellar lineup of music, and fun in the heart of New Orleans. The French Quarter Festival’s 40th Anniversary weekend is just days away, April 13-16. The festival takes place in various venues throughout the French Quarter’s Riverfront and Canal Plaza, JAX Lot, Jackson Square, and New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint, all within walking distance. Did I mention that the festival is FREE?! For more information visit https://frenchquarterfest.org

    French Quarter Festival Lineup: Courtesy Photo

    The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, or as the locals call it, Jazz Fest, is the celebration of the unique culture and heritage of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. Jazz Fest features an endless amount of music, succulent and sumptuous local and regional delicacies, one-of-a-kind handmade arts and crafts, second-line parades and so much more there is something for everyone at Jazz Fest!

    With 13 stages of soul-stirring music-jazz, blues, Cajun, zydeco, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, folk, and much more. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a singular celebration.

    Germaine Bazzle File Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson

    Jazz Fest 2023 awaits you! For more information about the dates, extended lineup, the CUBES, and other pertinent information, please visit https://www.nojazzfest.com.

    This will solidify an urge in you to visit New Orleans during the months of April and May.

    New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: Courtesy Photo

    Ricky Richardson is a Southern California-based writer, music reviewer, and photographer. Contact him via: liltampared@netzero.net                                            ###

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