As a city and a state of mind, New Orleans played a crucial role in the creation of jazz music. The late 19th and early 20th centuries gave rise to a whole new style: musicians honed in on the jazz sound across clubs in Storyville and as part of bands who played in funerals (the early start of the jazz funeral and second line).
The port also played a crucial role by bringing in new influences, such as Spanish styles, and in exporting jazz to the rest of America by way of musicians on the Mississippi River steamboats. Today, a distinct jazz sound defines this city and continues to enthrall patrons of the many jazz clubs that dot the local landscape.
Visitors can hear jazz throughout the city. The jazz clubs on Frenchmen Street like Snug Harbor and The Spotted Cat have a vibrant musical presence, of course, but so too do the street musicians in the surrounding Marigny and French Quarter area.
Also in the French Quarter, Preservation Hall offers shows every night of the week. The venue welcomes visitors of all ages and honors traditional New Orleans jazz. This historic spot, opened in 1961, also pays tribute to local artists. In fact, Preservation Hall rotates from a collective of about 100 local artists who have mastered not only their instruments but also the rhythmic sounds and Creole and Spanish influences that define New Orleans jazz.
If you’re looking an authentic New Orleans music experience, you’re not limited to downtown. Mid-City and Uptown offer quintessential listening all their own. Try Chickie Wah Wah for an intimate space with great acoustics, or head to Tipitina’s, named after the famous Professor Longhair tune. The Maple Leaf Bar offers live music nightly in addition to other events like poetry readings.
No matter where we go for our live music, we can count on New Orleans to show us a good time. Rhythm finds its way into every corner of this city, and we can’t help but tap our toes to the beat.