New Orleanians love their jazz music as much as their red beans and rice
It’s known that red beans and rice are very much a part of the New Orleans identity. But it’s rare to find a person who is not aware of New Orleanians obsession with music, especially jazz. Even the most unaware person will quickly become acquainted through the preponderance of music that is everywhere, especially in the French Quarter of the city.
Starting from Jackson Square, where buskers and bands are always entertaining passersby, to the music issuing forth from the various jazz clubs in the French Quarter as well as on Frenchmen Street, it’s a virtual cornucopia of rhythm, sound and melody.
Then and now
It is believed that in the 18th century, slaves from various African countries gathered on special occasions to keep their music alive. As music evolved drawing influences from ragtime and blues, it became so popular that bands were requested to perform during funerals. In the 20th century it was christened jazz, drawing its etymology from a sporting term owing to its energetic rhythm and peppy beat, and New Orleans has forever earned itself the epithet of the birthplace of jazz. Today here are many versions of Jazz, but it is in New Orleans that you can hear the real deal. The city boasts of some of the biggest jazz names such as Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Sidney Bechet and Jelly Roll Morton.
Catch it here
The best place to hear music for free is around Jackson Square and adjoining streets. You can hear more of it on the Frenchman Street, a lovely lane full of old buildings where practically every building houses a club with live music. In fact there’s so much music that you can spend few hours wandering around, just listening to various bands right on the street.
Old is gold
For a typical New Orleans jazz experience head to St Peter Street where the iconic Preservation Hall is located. The establishment is a no-frills place that concentrates on just one thing – spectacular jazz. It puts up three one-hour shows each night from 8 pm for an entry fee of about $15. For more, step into Fritzels, Palm Court JazzCafe, Spotted Cat, Blue Nile and Maison. Or head out a bit to the other end of town to Maple Leaf.
By: Anita Rao Kashi