Text and photos by Joel A. Siegel New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival rolls on with another rollicking edition of its signature musical event.
The second weekend of the 2023 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, May 5-7, delivered like no other festival can. Each day begins with young and phenomenally talented New Orleans musicians, often led by veterans, like Donald Harrison Jr. who helms the New Orleans Music Program. The rest of each day is filled with music on a dozen different stages from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with an emphasis on Louisiana artists.
This year’s headliners included Dee Dee Bridgewater, who now resides in New Orleans; Buddy Guy, age 86 and on a farewell tour; Christian McBride with his New Jawn band; hometown superstar Jonathan Batiste; Herbie Hancock with Terence Blanchard; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; Charlie Sepulveda; Artemis, featuring Renee Rosnes; and Keb’ Mo’. Other highlights included a tribute to the late Ellis Marsalis, led by David Torkanowsky with Ellis’ son Jason Marsalis; Jason’s brother Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra playing new arrangements of Mardi Gras classics, with drummer Herlin Riley sitting in; drummer Joe Dyson leading his own band; drummer Rick Sebastian; pianist Oscar Rossignoli; the exciting Trumpet Mafia, a large collective of trumpet players led by Tulane University professor Ashlin Parker; Astral Project with Steve Masakowski, Johnny Vidacovich, James Singleton and Tony Dagradi; singer John Boutté; and pianist Jesse McBride, also a professor at Tulane.
Adding to the mix, each year the festival celebrates the multicultural heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana. This year, the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, one of the 12 stages, was devoted to the influence of Puerto Rican culture and music. Artists from Puerto Rico, including singer Malentina, performed each day in the pavilion and on other stages. Of course, the festival always includes many Mardi Gras Indian groups, including Big Chief Juan & Jockimo’s Groove. Following are some images that show why music lovers return to this festival year after year. — Joel A. Siegel
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