Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"SJI" at the Fest

NY Times music writer Jon Pareles has a "Critic's Notebook" about Jazz Fest today, and toward the end is this passage:

Jazzfest's essence was in the gathering of a 50-woman choir from the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, which sustained $9 million in damage and now holds services for parts of its congregation in Houston and Baton Rouge as well as New Orleans. Some choir members had not seen one another since the hurricane. They, and other performers at the festival, kept saying, "It's like a reunion."

The Mahogany Brass Band was playing for the first time since the storm, and it was the first time all its members, dispersed as far as Phoenix and San Francisco, had seen one another. Brice Miller, the band's leader, started a strikingly emotional "St. James Infirmary" alone as a tearful solo trumpet dirge; when he sang the lyrics — about seeing a lover's dead body — he interjected, "My baby's New Orleans."

The full piece (basically a Fest wrapup) is here on the Times site, which requires registration.

Also, this blog post mentions that Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra included "St. James Infirmary" in their set. When I was living in New Orleans I once interviewed Mayfield for a Boston Globe article about Los Hombres Calientes. I was very saddened to hear that his father was among Katrina's victims. Here is the site for Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra project, where you can, among other things, listen to or download his "9th Ward Blues." (Thanks, AnimaMundi).