Disasters can be wake-up calls on multiple levels, including the cultural. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, attention has been focused on the musical and cultural legacies of New Orleans, in the form of tributes, special projects, crescent city music featured at festivals and other public forums. There was also a strong musical aspect, if less pronounced or explored, to the day known universally as 9/11, the tragedy that destroyed the World Trade Center and steered America-and the world-on a new course five years ago this month.
A few truths come into play. New York City is the generally acknowledged center of the jazz universe. It is a mecca for this musical genre, more than for any other. A “local” event of 9/11’s magnitude inevitably had an impact on jazz, even if not with the direct circumstances of the lost houses, livelihoods and infrastructure in New Orleans.