The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival keeps the heritage part of its name alive through tributes to musical legends at the annual jambalaya of music, crafts, and food. This year's 41st Jazz Fest, April 23-25 and April 29-May 2 at the Fair Grounds Race Course salutes the centennial birth of Louis Prima, the original "King of Swing,'' who over five decades led big bands and recorded 800 songs. Among the trumpeter and songwriter's tunes are "Jump, Jive, an' Wail,'' "That Old Black Magic,'' "Sing, Sing, Sing,'' "Just a Gigolo,'' "Ain't Got Nobody.'' He died in 1975 in New Orleans.
In a fitting twist, fellow singer Tony Bennett painted Prima's portrait for the official poster, "The Chief of New Orleans.'' For the musical portion, Bobby Lonero leads the "Tribute to Louis Prima'' on April 29, while Louis Prima Jr. re-creates his dad's music on April 30. Prima's youngest daughter, Lena, a jazz singer, performs April 23.
Among other gigs saluting the past are the "Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong,'' Irma Thomas channeling Mahalia Jackson, and Alan Toussaint honoring Julian Cannonball Adderly.
With too many performers to list for 11 stages each weekend, here are a few to entice: Neville Brothers, Marcia Ball, Pine Leaf Boys, Trombone Shorty, Elllis Marsalis, Allman Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel, Bonerama, and Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival April 23-25 and April 29-May 2, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Fair Grounds Race Course, 1751 Gentilly Blvd. Tickets $45 in advance; $60 at the gate. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.
Photo courtesy of www.art4now / Poster TM & © 2010 N. O. J. & H. F. Inc. / Original Painting © 2010 Benedetto Arts, LLC.