The Politics of Jazz
New Orleans has never looked worse.
And never sounded better.
Yes Katrina has given everyone something to talk about -
and as New Orleans neighbours knock their houses back together,
the words on everyone's lips are politics...
and all that jazz.
Given half a headline about New Orleans by good ol' George 'Dubya',
they'll give you something to sing about.
Politics are being parodied in the best new Mardi Gras tunes,
and as the old jazz clubs reopen they're reviving the
spirit of the world famous Big Easy.
Not that it's anything new to the few NoLa residents that remain.
Their insatiable love for politics has always been infamous.
And New Orleans doesn't sing it's share of the blues without reason.
But now the division of this 'City of Sin' from the support
and the living standards of the rest of the States
is ironically bringing a new unity to its townfolk-
a combined cause to speak out and sing loud about the
political wranglings of renewing New Orleans
and the cultural cataclysm they face.
Musicians are rallying together in jazz troupes and
fundraising groups such as 'ReNew Our Music',
playing the proverbial to prove to the world that
'you can't stop the music'.
And to tell the tale of debacle of the
failed US rescue mission too.
The stories of suffering and the sights of the worst hit wards
aren't "as bad as you hear on the news"' - they're worse.
And it's unlikely that life will ever be the same as it was
"before the storm".
But in New Orleans some things will never change-
With the coming of Mardi Gras comes the chance to speak out...
and no-one can silence the politics of jazz
A Wendy Dent Film
Filmed in the heart of New Orleans Mardi Gras post-Katrina,
featuring in depth interviews with a
of America's most famous city of music
"UNCLE" LIONEL BATISTE
2007 Grammy award winner IRMA THOMAS
BEN JAFFE, Director of PRESERVATION HALL & New Orleans Musicians' Hurricane Relief Fund/ 'RENEW OUR MUSIC'
JON CLEARY and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen
THE REBIRTH BRASS BAND
MARK SAMUELS, BASIN STREET RECORDS President/ Co-founder
'SHEIK' RICHARDSON, THE ARABI WRECKING KREWE
THE HOT 8 BRASS BAND
THE NEW BIRTH BRASS BAND
'Prince of Gospel' LYLE HENDERSON
DWAYNE BREASHEARS, Program Director WWOZ 90.7 FM NEW ORLEANS RADIO
JOHN BRUNIOUS, Preservation Hall band
and the City Hall protest/ jazz funeral for HELEN HILL of the New Orleans Troublemakers
... stay tuned.
When I started researching this film, I knew nothing about jazz. But I knew there was a story to be told about this city that the world had not yet heard.
The people of New Orleans impressed me, inspired me, overwhelmed me. If the film can bring one thing for me, it would be to mirror back to them a lyrical portrait of their city, their spirit and their tenacity to change the world, in a way that would show them something new and make them proud.
Each concert was sublime, so I felt compelled to find a way to make the film as much a concert of the music as it was a political- documentary.
Each interview was like a deep and intimate conversation, getting to know a new friend. So I focused the film on the moments when each interviewee finds a heart-felt memory, a moment of passion, when in subtle ways they bare their soul.
The edit was structured like a Mardi Gras parade of mini-portraits of each artist, so that the audience can get to know who the person is in as much depth as possible, before jumping to another chapter, rising and falling and changing track like a sweet jazz refrain.
For me this is not a film about jazz – its about people. And if you walk away feeling you’ve met and known these people, that in some small but powerful way you have been witness to their cathartic experience of rebuilding a city on inspiration and a little jazz, then my work has been done.
This is simply a film exploring the most important things the people of New Orleans wanted to share with you.