Bringing jazz back to New Orleans
By Julie Jackson for CNN
Leo Green in action.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
LONDON, England (CNN) -- If there is one city that gives resonance to jazz and its progression through the ages it would have to be New Orleans.
From the birth of jazz in 1895 to its emergence as a mainstream music in 1920s America, New Orleans has been at the heart of its existence.
The devastation of hurricane Katrina has had a huge effect on that dynamic and Leo Green, Artistic Director of Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, acknowledges how much the destruction of New Orleans has impacted the jazz community.
"It's hit the jazz community hugely. It's probably the most loved place on the map. It's where it all started, where everything came from."
Green has played with some of the biggest names in the industry such as Van Morrison and Jerry Lee Lewis and has a reputation as one of the best sax players in the world.
In his 12 years of touring he became familiar with the irreplaceable energy of the city which has been home to some of the biggest names.
"Jazz is an integral part that's woven into the culture and subculture there, when you are there you are just aware of who and what has gone on there."
But now things are completely changed.
"There are musicians who've just gone off the face of the earth."
Green recalls the now famous story of Fats Domino who went missing in the Katrina tragedy. "He turned up a few days later. He climbed on a roof and didn't want to leave. There were many people like that who just didn't want to leave."
Ronnie Scott's recently held a charity benefit to raise money for the affected musicians of New Orleans. Green describes their endeavor to ensure all the proceeds went directly to the musicians.
"We wanted to make sure we could raise money for musicians and contacted Musicare, a grass roots level charity." He said they wanted musicians to get what they needed whether that be "a roof, meal or a new trumpet."
The process of bringing New Orleans musicians over for the charity benefit was what brought the extremity of the situation home to Green.
"I had to organize visas and work permits and a lot of the musicians didn't even have addresses. It really pushes it home, something as boring as filling out a form." Green said many musicians are still on the road and "don't want to or can't go back."
But he does admit that being accustomed to touring may give them an advantage over other New Orleans citizens.
"In a way musicians are lucky. They can be on the road and earn a living which is not the case if you are a schoolteacher for example and have to be in a certain place."
Nevertheless, Green would like to find more ways to help bring the music back to New Orleans. "It would be nice if we could continue doing something, maybe annually. It's important to keep reminding people, who knows how long it will be before it's back on its feet."
Green is confident, however, that the soul of New Orleans will not be lost.
"Physically it will be changed and removed but the history is still there. Whatever that 'thing' is that people talk about will still be there."
|© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.