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NOLA Jazz Fest: Weekend Two

Esperanza Spalding at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2012
Marlon Jordan at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2012
Bill Summers at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2012
Regina Carter at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2012

I’ve been attending Jazz Fest regularly for nearly 25 years and have been living in New Orleans for the past 15 years. For me, Jazz Fest is mainly about two things: hearing performances that are engaging and exuberant or, as Evan Haga put it in his review of Jazz Fest’s first weekend, cathartic; the other reason I go to Jazz Fest is to hear people I’ve never heard before.

My favorite day inside the Jazz Tent in recent years was Thursday, April 3. I caught two hometown acts still keeping the flames of hard-driving modern jazz alive in the Crescent City and experienced a brilliant national act. The latter was Regina Carter’s Reverse Thread, a project that brings together what might in other hands become a hokey collection of resources-lost Ugandan Jewish hymns and other obscure world musics, along with bass, drum kit, accordion and kora-for the purpose of sublime violin-led improvisations. Jazz Fest at large is a cornucopia of the Louisiana Gulf Coast’s unique and distinctive cultural traditions and predilections, many of them strongly African-tinged; Carter, in her sumptuous 90-minute afternoon set, managed to reproduce much of the whole of Jazz Fest in a detailed, intimate microcosm.

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