Jazz Fest: On the Ledge

Quick response to this year’s Jazz Fest talent roll out:

– It feels old to complain about the lack of contemporary jazz at Jazz Fest, but this year’s lineup looks like the jazz bookers threw their hands in the air and quit, opting almost entirely for locals. I see Esperanza Spalding, David Sanborn and Joey DeFrancesco, smooth jazz in Dave Koz,  and two Latin jazz artists (Pedrito Martinez, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Band with Terence Blanchard). For the second year in a row, the contemporary jazz offerings are so meager that they should shame Jazz Fest.

Seun Kuti

– On the other hand, the world music offerings are pretty cool. It’s great to see that Seun Kuti & Egypt 80Cheikh LôLindigo featuring FixiPaulina Rubio and Bombino are in the mix.

– The heavy influx of rock and indie rock is a thorny issue. On one hand, I want to see a lot of those acts, and I think they’ve booked about as consistently as can be managed with an eye to a Jazz Fest/roots music aesthetic. Most of the rock bands can be seen as contemporary expressions of roots-oriented musics. Still, their presence does serve to mute the difference between Jazz Fest and other major festivals. A passage in Keith Spera’s article this morning on the lineup almost lets the cat out of the bag:

After the Eagles and Petty were confirmed, the festival received a call from the Foo Fighters camp. Ten years ago, Davis likely would not have considered a raucous arena rock band of such recent vintage. Pearl Jam’s well-received set at the 2010 Jazz Fest paved the way.

“Pearl Jam opened that window,” Davis said. “That was the first time we got on that ledge.

“We look at icons, people that are, besides talented and brilliant, important in a whole genre. We’ve always looked at it in the Santana sense, or the Al Green sense, or the Allen Toussaint sense. We saw that in (Pearl Jam’s) Eddie Vedder. And you have to see that in (Foo Fighters frontman) Dave Grohl. He is a seminal figure in a few decades of American rock.”

Spera’s suggestion that the reception Pearl Jam received made the Foo Fighters’ booking possible seems to acknowledge that ticket sales and audience reception and not some aesthetic rubric governs decision-making. That’s certainly what critics have charged for years, but Quint Davis’ quote doesn’t exactly echo what Spera says; instead, he talks about Grohl as “talented and brilliant, important in a whole genre … a seminal figure in a few decades of American rock.” Not exactly a defense of the booking in terms of how he fits into Jazz Fest, but not a concession that it’s all about the money either.

Still, could Davis sound less excited by this development? “Pearl Jam opened that window. That was the first time we got on that ledge.”

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • Plawmac

    Jazz Fest is simply a moniker now applied to a music fest held in NO. Don’t get me wrong, I still attend it, but it has less to do every year with its title. Frankly, I find myself every year getting much more excited over the French Quarter Fest. I appreciate the Jazz Fest for what it means to the local economy, but as a musical event, not so much any more. 

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • CSConrad

    But the important question is: who is playing at Chazfest?

  • Jacqueline

    Coming from the land of NoCulture (Australia), any Fest is a good Fest to me. But to see the “alternatives” that have sprung up around JF is fantastic…FQ Fest, Chazfest, Noizefest…all good stuff. I think the prices are reasonable, especially compared to what us convicts would pay, so it seems pretty accessible. Enjoy what you’ve got NOLA, and keep it coming!