On Truthdig, Larry Blumenfeld reports on restrictive ordinances taking a toll on the city’s musical culture.
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Below is a medley of arresting sentiments culled from Larry Blumenfeld’s splendid essay on the current musical scene in New Orleans.
“Where are the incubators? . . . The streets are incubators and critical venues. . . . Whereas in most cities culture trickles down from the top, in New Orleans it bubbles up from the street. . . . Change, real change, transformative change, enduring change, comes from the streets. . . . As a culture, we’ve been doing it for 100 years or more, and we’re not about to stop. . . . But the thing is that the music and the culture survives despite it, and finds its way around, over, and under these laws.”
As one who fell in love with the city’s music in the early 1940s during the New Orleans Revival and has followed its developments, in all its variety of forms, over the course of seven decades, it renders me very sad indeed to learn of the stifling of this basic and essential aspect of the area’s culture. To cite only one of the many styles of the city’s rich music that I enjoy, I continue to listen to and profit from the sounds of Bunk Johnson, King Oliver, Freddie Keppard, George Lewis, Jim Robinson, Papa Celestin, and other pioneers, as well as the younger generations of musicians who followed in the footsteps of their predecessors, for example, the Preservation Hall groups. I have recently been renewing my acquaintance (first made in the 1950s via LP) with the Jelly Roll Morton Library of Congress Recordings (remastered and reissued on eight Rounder CDs several years ago). No student of New Orleans jazz, or of the city itself, should be unfamiliar with master raconteur Jelly’s epic 1938 piano-accompanied “first hand account of a largely undocumented world that existed a century ago and still has a profound effect on present day jazz and popular music (from an Amazon.com customer Comment).
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