“Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story” – a beautiful tribute to a legendary festival

“There’s nothing like playing the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Nothing like it in the world.”

Story: An up close and extremely personal look at the 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, aka Jazz Fest, the history of the festival, and everything that makes it spectacular.

Genre I’d put it in: Groovy Documentaries
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Focuses on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, aka Jazz Fest.

Gotta say: Directors Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern make sure you get the vibe of this Fest from the jump, with an eclectic, frenetic style of cuts and edits that sweep you in without getting you dizzy… Though you might get hungry, as there’s a lot of food tossed right into your face, and that’s just in first five minutes. So what I’m saying is, you should definitely prep before you settle in to watch this, and prep in theme. NOLA munchies, your favorite beverage in a hurricane glass, heck, wear some beads. Because Story is a visual feast, and getting into the spirit is just another way to really enjoy the ride.

Like Summer of Soul, the music here is fantastic, and the way the director and their crew goes about getting this footage makes it feel like you’re they’re. But unlike Questlove’s beautifully preserved moment in time, you can actually make plans to go to Fest next year, or the year after that. (Though it’ll be a bit more than the “two dollars a head, children for a dollar” it was when Jazz Fest started…) Story is part history, part musical fantasy, and part Louisiana travelogue. From its beginnings as a Newport Jazz Fest spin-off, to today’s beautifully inclusive Fest filled with music of all countries and genres, and how jazz itself came to be, Story catalogs it all. And it’s wonderful.

Think of this doc not as an education, but as a bunch of folks sitting with you on the porch, telling stories and making music. Incredibly talented, famous people, and beautiful, beautiful music. Because Jazz Fest isn’t just about jazz, though the in-depth look at this art form is right here. It’s about people that love music, food, getting together with like minded people, and as one interviewee puts it, culture. “The most kickass party in the world.” Hear hear.

My one complaint? I need a playlist from this doc. Neeeeed. Desperately. Because Story introduced me to so many performers I’d never heard before, and really want to remember. A small quibble, but there’s only so many performers info I was able to jot down as the end credits rolled. Help a gal out, Marshall and Suffern!

When I say this film is an immersive experience I mean it. As those end credits rolled with their “Kodak moments” along the edges, I felt like I’d visited every single tent, seen every crafter selling their wares, and tasted every delight. For an hour and a half, let yourself sink into Story, get yourself lost in the Fest, and allow yourself to pretend that nothing else exists in the world but music and crawfish…and honey, yes they get in deep with all the NOLA food. But hey, it’s all good. We all deserve a little self-care right now.

#Protip: Keep in mind this quote near the end of this documentary; “Life’s to be enjoyed, not endured.”

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
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