Friday, April 27, 2012

Back in New Orleans

I really missed New Orleans Jazz Fest. I came regularly since 1992, but spending the last couple of springs in Belarus Alla and I missed the festival. This year for a number of reasons it made sense to come back to the USA in spring and visit New Orleans. I knew I missed the festival, but honestly I forgot how much I like New Orleans. It’s warm here. And beautiful. And we have great friends here. And there’s music.

The music really distinguishes the city. Doreen reminded us of it today. I didn’t know Doreen and we weren’t looking for her. After we arrived and checked into our hotel we walked into the French Quarter to absorb the culture and do a little shopping. We walked down Royal Street and stopped in at one of the many decorative-arts stores just to admire the merchandise. Giorgio Valobra sells antique furniture and new Venetian art glass. We spent a long time admiring the glass and imagined ourselves owning some of it. Then we continued down the street, passing little jazz groups on every corner until we reached Doreen. We got no farther.
Doreen's Jazz: The little boy on the right played trumpet. The drummer is 9. They all play very well.

Doreen plays the clarinet and sings. Her nine-year-old daughter plays the drums and a couple of other adults play tuba player and guitar. They all play quite well, and Doreen sings just as wonderfully as she plays her clarinet. We decided not to miss this excellent show and stayed to watch until the police reopened the street to cars at 4:00. As the band played, a very little boy stepped into the street and danced the second-line with a big white handkerchief. I tried to get a photo with him strutting his stuff, but he kept dancing right out of the frame before my cell phone pulled itself together to make a picture. Anyway, he danced well enough that we suspected that he must be local. Indeed, he is Doreen’s godson. We learned more about him when he returned with a trumpet in his hands. He’s really young and the trumpet is at least half his size, but he still managed to jam effectively with his godmother. Clearly, he is learning the local traditions. Many kids here play music and they don't give it up when they reach high school. As a result we found bands on many more corners once we finally walked away from this one.

This evening we ate dinner at Brightsen’s, a wonderful restaurant in an old house on the edge of town. It takes a long time to get there, but the food makes the trip completely worthwhile. Especially, we enjoyed having dinner with our good friend Bryant. We couldn’t imagine a better day, but I’m confident that the days ahead will be really good too.

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