When Billie Holiday died in 1959, thousands of mourners attended her funeral at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in New York City. The overflow crowd lined the sidewalks. Honorary pallbearers included such jazz greats as Benny Goodman and Mary Lou Williams. Newspapers and magazines ran heartfelt tributes.

In a good jazz rhythm section, the players function independently and as one. Their parts and accents crisscross and reinforce each other, interlocking like West African drummers. Beyond that, the bass is a band's ground floor. When it changes up, the earth shifts under all the players' feet. From moment to moment, Linda Oh's bass prowls or gallops, takes giant downward leaps, or stands its ground.

Jazz has evolved into a genre of music that incorporates many distinctive styles since it began on the streets of New Orleans a hundred years ago. Often, the key to its evolution is cross-cultural cooperation.

On this week's Notes from New Orleans, we'll hear from the leader of a French jazz group that has returned to Louisiana in pursuit of his persistent desire to collaborate.

It is a weekend for Jazz harp. The New Orleans Chapter of the American Harp Society is hosting its first Jazz and Pop harp weekend at the University of New Orleans, helping students from around the country improve their Jazz harp skills.  Professional members of the local harp society and guest artists will perform in two public concerts.

The 12th annual Satchmo SummerFest will be held Aug. 3-5 at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint.

The festival is dedicated to the life, legacy and music of New Orleans' native son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. 

Kickin' It With Han Bennink

Apr 18, 2012

Here's a great shot of drummer Han Bennink, who turns 70 today, deploying one of his signature moves: the "putting a foot on the snare drum." It's quite a spectacle when you see it live. There's the visual display of a big man (he is well over 6-feet-tall, and muscular) contorting himself with the gleeful strain of a mad scientist. There's also a practical basis, which has to do with ingeniously modifying the timbre of the drum. He explains in this short video:

Every day in New Orleans, Lily Keber rolls out of bed and walks to a flat, minor office building to meet her muse. Keber makes a cup of coffee with chicory, hooks up her computer and waits for what sounds like a dozen spiders to crawl across a piano.

Jazz is dead! Well, it's not true — but in the history of the music, that statement is heard very often. Wynton Marsalis has found that the best way to combat that idea is simple — keep creating.

Award winning Jazz singer Rene Marie celebrates Americana in an evening of song as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation presents a Jazz Journey concert featuring Germaine Bazzle, Stephanie Jordan and Betty Shirley. The free concert is Friday January 13th at Dillard University's Lawless Memorial Chapel. Doors open at 6:30 pm. The concert begins at 7pm.

Faubourg Treme

Feb 13, 2009

The fabric and identity of New Orleans is often revealed through the history of its neighborhoods. Now, a film documentary by two local producers tells the story of one of New Orleans's oldest and most culturally significant.