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Live Reviews

2002 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

By Published: March 8, 2004
DDBB are credited for the ‘70s revitalization of brass-bands in much the same way the Storyville Stompers did in the ‘80s. While the Storyville Stompers are a great example of the more traditional New Orleans brass-bands, the Dirty Dozen offer a more contemporary and experimental form of today’s modern brass-band.

DDBB reeled off around an hour of tunes, opening the set with “Ain’t Nothin’ But A Party,” a brass heavy hit from their new album, “Medicated Magic.” Norah Jones, Dr. John, DJ Logic and Robert Randolph are a few of the performers appearing on the album, which in part celebrated the bands 25th anniversary. Trombonist Sammie Williams was especially vibrant on stage, having a lot of fun while moving to the music with his movements while founding saxophonist Roger Lewis showed he can still carry a melody a long way.

Other acts on Friday at the Sprint Stage included a performance by former Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli, and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Memorable moments from Denson’s fairgrounds show included talented flute solo and “Check Your Mind.” Denson worked with Lenny Kravitz early in his career before going out on his own and starting KDTU. It was the long awaited fairgrounds inaugural debut for KDTU, even though he and his band have been playing nighttime venues for years.

The Big Easy boasts an awesome nightlife year-round, and it kicks into overdrive during Jazz Fest. There are countless clubs and venues scattered throughout the city, a large concentration of these located in the French Quarter.

Plenty of local talent roams the streets and fills the bars in the French Quarter, and Jackson Square is a great place to check out. Jackson Square is at the southern end of the French Quarter and it’s fairly to find since it’s also the location of the St. Louis Cathedral, which looms high above many of the other buildings in the area. It’s a pretty safe bet on any given afternoon if you’re searching for a socially diverse crowd of tourists, magicians, peddlers of all sorts and plenty of spectators watching a pick-up band, which there are plenty of in the French Quarter. A few of the more renown clubs in the area include Tipitina’s French Quarter and the House of Blues, which is also the home of The Parish at the House of Blues, which offers a more intimate setting. A few more choice venues, Tipitina's Uptown and the Howlin Wolf, are located in the nearby Business District.

Many clubs and theaters line the side streets, and the true size of large venues like the Saenger Theater or the State Palace Theater, are deceiving to the eye, appearing much smaller from the outside.

The Saenger is the nicer and larger of the two, but on Saturday night, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe blew the roof off of the State Palace Theater at the best show of Jazz Fest. Karl knows how to get the crowd involved. Whether it be conversing with the audience between songs, or playing one of his renown dominating sax solos, or an all-star line up of guests including Robert Randolph, DJ Logic, or fellow saxophonist Skerik, Karl Denson gets the job done.

Some highlights from the show include the funky booty shaker “Front Money,” and “Good for me (And You),” not to mention the Jimi Hendrix covers of “Fire” and “Spanish Castle Magic.”

This all happens over a monstrous two set concert with two hours and thirty minutes of actual stage time for Denson. There’s still the House of Blues after this, for a late show with Yonder Mountain String Band, and they are a good band, but it just doesn’t matter anymore.

And back at that book tent, back at the fairgrounds, where the authors are signing books, that’s where local author C.W. Cannon is, signing his new book. He was born and raised in New Orleans, and now, after being gone for several years, he’s been back for a few years now. He knows about the aura.

“The music is more ever present here than other places,” he says later on. “It’s in the streets. It’s everywhere. It’s something about the aura, and all these different stages and this huge vibe, and you’ve got this feeling of social harmony going on amid all the different walks of life.”

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