Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 50° Clear
A&E >  Movies

‘Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story’ review: Doc hits like a warm beignet

June 16, 2022 Updated Thu., June 16, 2022 at 2:11 p.m.

Revelers dance during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 28, 2006, in New Orleans, marking the festival’s return in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Revelers dance during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 28, 2006, in New Orleans, marking the festival’s return in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
By Adam Graham Detroit News

Jazz Fest is a New Orleans tradition dating back 50 years, bringing together the best music, food and soul the Big Easy has to offer.

“Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story” covers the bases of the festival, which is spread out over eight days on 14 stages, bringing in some 7,000 musicians and 100,000 fans. It’s not at all like being there, but it might help convince you that life is too short to not make your way to the festival at least once before you die.

Talking heads from Jimmy Buffett (a Jazz Fest staple) to Tom Jones wax on the fest, which unfolds on the Fair Grounds Race Course at the edge of the city’s 7th Ward. Filmed during the 2019 edition of the festival, there’s an emphasis on that year’s performances by Katy Perry and Pitbull, representative of the fest’s eclecticism if not its traditional sound.

That’s better embodied by the film’s exploration of the fest’s jazz and gospel roots, each of which get their own chapters here. There’s also a breakdown of the key differences between Cajun and zydeco music, and the ways the fest’s different styles hit you from all directions at once. As the artist Boyfriend puts it, in a world where we increasingly rely on digitally curated recommendations, at Jazz Fest, “you’re going to experience something that your computer wouldn’t have put in your feed.”

Directors Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern are clearly fans, and they tell the festival’s story with reverence, focusing on the New Orleans artists, from Irma Thomas to Big Freedia, who give the festival its punch. Attention is paid to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Jazz Fest’s comeback in 2006, which was bolstered by a certain megastar who makes a late appearance in the film. The festival is an institution that had to survive, that had to come roaring back, and “Jazz Fest” makes the case for its next 50 years going forward.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.