The Rebirth of Music… and All That Jazz

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You don’t even have to make an effort to hear great jazz when you visit New Orleans. It’s everywhere around you. There are pop-up bands on the streets throughout the French Quarter. And Jackson Square. And in front of Cafe du Monde. Or if you’re lucky (?), maybe you’ll see a jazz funeral procession marching down the street. Essentially, jazz is everywhere you go.

You can go to one of the jazz clubs on Frenchman’s Street. Or, listen to one of New Orlean’s iconic brass bands like we did at the Maple Leaf. That’s where we stood in a narrow little bar and listened to one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. It was actually my second time hearing them. I’d had the privilege of going to hear Rebirth in 2008. It was one of the highlights of my trip and I was eager to hear them again. I discovered they play at the Maple Leaf every Tuesday night, so that’s where we headed, with a hundred other people crammed into a tiny little space.

Rebirth at the Maple Leaf

Rebirth at the Maple Leaf

Jazz has become an institution in New Orleans. It’s something of a legend. Maybe you’ve even heard a little bit of its most sensational legend regarding jazz and the Axeman?

The Axeman was a serial killer who went on a killing spree from 1918-1919. On March 13, 1919, a letter purporting to be from the Axeman was published in newspapers saying that he would kill again at 15 minutes past midnight, but would spare the occupants of any place where a jazz band was playing. That night New Orleans’ dance halls were filled to capacity. People played jazz on their porches and in their living rooms. Music poured into the streets, and tradition was born. There were no murders that night.

The bands are still playing. You can’t walk through New Orleans without hearing jazz. But then, who’d want to?

13 responses to “The Rebirth of Music… and All That Jazz

  1. Always a fun evening, night, morning. Just walking down the streets is a kick. I’d never heard the story about the Axeman. I would have been playing a little jazz myself. –Curt

    • Apparently, they did this as a storyline on ‘American Horror Story.’ I haven’t seen that yet, but I loved hearing all the bands as we walked around. Made the city very festive.

  2. I was only to New Orleans once, but I loved the city! We took some tours, ate great food, and couldn’t get enough jazz. And we were lucky (?) enough to see a funeral procession. Wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing the story of the Axeman. I’d never heard it before.

  3. Sounds a great city and I think I’d merge right in – a glass or two of beer, live music. I’d never usually listen to trad jazz but in its own backyard it would be fantastic.

  4. I first heard of the Axeman on American Horror Story, I was fascinated to hear it was a real story when I was there.
    I love Jazz and Rebirth was a treat. It was an amazing feat to be crammed in a space so small with hundreds of others. One of the best concerts I had been to in a while.

    • Listening to Rebirth at the Maple Leaf is definitely not for the claustrophobic or people who don’t like crowds. But if you don’t mind being crammed into a small, humid space, it’s definitely worth it.

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