NEW ORLEANS FOR JAZZ FEST, FRENCHMEN STREET AND THE MARIGNY

Sweet Musician, at Club Favela Chic, Frenchmen Street, New Orleans

I visited New Orleans for Jazz and Heritage Festival this year, my 25th year at Fest. I made some fine images of Jazz Musicians shooting from outside the photography pit for less distorted images than possible when working too close from the press photographers pit, including a photograph rising star Cecile McLorin Salvant. Use this link for that image and post, and view my new Jazz Fest gallery. Also see the images I made of Wynton Marsalis working the crowd, Buddy Guy wailing away in the Blues tent and Moctar Mdou, the ‘Hendrix of the Sahara,’ bringing down the house. I’ll add nice pics of Terence Blanchard and Stephanie Jordan.

Beyond Fest, I spent time wandering around in the Faubourg Marigny and along Frenchmen Street, hunting for good compositions. Above is an image of a street musician busking for a living outside a club on Frenchmen, and below is an image of ‘The World’s Most Okayest Poet’ doing the same thing, across the street.

Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA

Faubourg Marigny:  In 1805 Bernard de Marigny began the subdivision of his plantation east of New Orleans, then under French control, creating the first suburb of the City. As Americans settled up-river in what is now the Garden District, French Creole and German immigrants and free persons of color settled in Faubourg Marigny. The Marigny, as it is most commonly referred to now, returned to its iconoclastic and Bohemian roots in the 1980s and 90s, as many refugees from the over-priced homes in the French Quarter and some folks from a substantial gay community in Nawlings moved in. Alas, The Marigny appears to be losing a battle with gentrification, pushed along by rising housing prices and Air BnB rentals. Still, the neighborhood retains enormous charm, displayed in the photo below of a restored Creole Cottage fronted by a utility pole festooned with Mardi Gras beads. Note the cat keeping watch and the reflection of the backside of the utility pole in the front window, a deliberate compositional element.  

Creole Cottage, Beaded Pole, The Marigny, New Orleans, LA.

And here is a nearby wall mural:

Wall Mural, The Marigny, New Orleans, LA.

I love the black birds surrounding the big-hearted guy. Que colores! And here is the local coffee house:

Flora Coffee Shop and Gallery, Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans, LA

Here are Wynton, Buddy Guy, Moctar M’Dou and Terence Blanchard:

New Orleans, LA. Wynton with his brothers Branford, Delfayo and Jason, performed a Tribute to their father, Ellis Marsalis, at Fest 2019. I caught this image as they ended their performance, winding their way through the adoring crowd in the Jazz tent. Wynton is an American virtuoso trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY.
New Orleans, LA. Guitar legend and Louisiana-born Buddy Guy is a multiple Grammy-award winner. His style is Chicago meets Southern blues and his sound has influenced key generations of both rock and the blues.
New Orleans, LA. Dubbed “the Hendrix of the Sahara” by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, this Tuareg musician, Mdou Moctar, was forbidden to buy a guitar by his religious parents, so he built his own. He is among the first to play traditional Tuareg music in a rock-guitar format, and has starred in a film loosely based on Prince’s Purple Rain.
New Orleans, LA Grammy award-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard is a Jazz Fest regular. He is especially appreciated for his community work. His acclaimed 2015 album, Breathless, was largely inspired by the death of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of NYC police, (“I can’t breath!”), and the events which followed.

But I have to say, with all due respect for the gents, the women artists and the female characters of Fest are the most photogenic. I loved the music and energy of Stephanie Jordan, Cecile Savant, (OK, I already gave you a link for my blog about her, but so what?), and the dancers from Niger, performing in the small stage for cultural exchange.

New Orleans, LA. This popular New Orleans jazz singer is part of the esteemed Jordan family. Her father is award-winning saxophonist, Kidd Jordan. Stephanie Jordan
New Orleans, LA. This dancer is part of a cultural association, the 3L Ilfede of Benin, supported by the government of Benin focused on spreading and preserving a wide variety of traditional dances from Benin.

New Orleans, LA. Cecil McLorin Salvant is a rising star, American jazz vocalist of Haitian/French parents. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, she has gone on to record multiple albums to critical acclaim. Her third album, From One to Love, won the Grammy in 2015 for Best Jazz Vocal Album. No less an authority than Wynton Marsalis has said of her, ‘You get a singer like this once in a generation or two.’ Her wildly eclectic choices of material on her new album, The Window, makes new magic out of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Visions’ and the West Side Story chestnut ‘Somewhere’. This is what she was performing when I made this photograph at Fest, 2019.

GANGA AARTI, VARANASI (BENARES)

VARANASI, (BENARES), INDIA

The Ganga Aarti is an Aarti offering prayer to the Ganges river, Mother Ganga.  One is held every night at dusk at several ghats in Varanasi (Benares). (The ghats in Benares are a series of stone steps lining a bank of the Ganges for several miles.) Several young Hindu priests, pandits,perform this religious ritual or puja,raising or lowering incense sticks, scepters blowing smoke, ringing bells and blowing on conch shells, all in coordinated movements. The culmination of the Ganga Aarti involves the movement of special oil lamps, deepam, in lieu of the Aarti plate, with dozens of multi-tiered ghee lamps aflame. The young priest-pandits move these lit lamps up and down in a rhythmic fashion while chanting hymns to the river God, a fantastic and highly photogenic display of light, as seen here. See my blog and India gallery on my website, here, for more photos from my recent trip to India and from the Ganga Aarti and Benares, in particular.  

Continue reading “GANGA AARTI, VARANASI (BENARES)”

LORD SHIVA, THE DESTROYER (OR TRANSFORMER)

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

This is Lord Shiva, actually, Sundareshwar, a form of Shiva, one of the primary three deities in the “Great Hindu Trinity”: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva, the destroyer or transformer. Along with Parvati, Shiva’s consort, these are the most important Gods in the Hindu pantheon.  

This representation of Shiva appears on one of the towers or gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple, a historic Hindu temple located in the temple city of MaduraiTamil NaduIndia. The Temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and Sundareshwar.  See my growing, new India gallery on my website for more photographs from my recent India trip and elsewhere.

Continue reading “LORD SHIVA, THE DESTROYER (OR TRANSFORMER)”

CRUCIFIXION POSE, FEZ TANNERY WORKER

Chouara Tannery, Fez Medina, Morocco

The hides from tens of thousands of sheep were being processed in the Fez, Morocco, Tannery before me when I made this photograph, waiting with my camera and long glass for over an hour on the balcony of a leather goods shop for a photographic moment like this. The man on the porch opposite me, striking a crucifixion pose, had just emerged from the doorway behind to stretch for a minute before resuming work in the dye and chemical vats below. I chose my location for the strong, raking side lighting and the the wall opposite me, hoping something would happen on that porch. It finally did. I lasted an hour only because of mint sprigs handed out by the shop keeper to cut the nearly unbearable smell from the hides, the chemicals, the offal. See more images of Fez, the medina, desert dunes and from Morocco, in my Morocco gallery on my website.

Continue reading “CRUCIFIXION POSE, FEZ TANNERY WORKER”

DANCE OF THE DRUMS II, GOM KORA (OR GOMPHU KORA) TSHECHU

 Near Trashigang, Bhutan

The tshechu are annual religious festivals of the Drukpa branch of Tibetan Buddhism, the national religion in Bhutan. Tshechu are held annually in each district or ‘dzongkhag.’ The focal point of the tshechus are the Cham dances and dancers. The Cham dances last hours, beginning early in the morning. They are sometimes described as ecstatic because they can involve leaping and other seemingly wild movement of masked or other costumed dancers, or, alternately, slow, highly meditative and trance-like gestures and movement.  See other photographs of the tshechu, the Cham dances and the splendid thongdrel, an immense appliqué tapestry with religious images of the Guru Rinpoche, displayed in public only once yearly during the tshechu, and other images from Bhutan in the Bhutan gallery on my website under Travel Photography.

Continue reading “DANCE OF THE DRUMS II, GOM KORA (OR GOMPHU KORA) TSHECHU”