Friday, June 3, 2022

'A New Orleans Story' features all that cool jazz and much, much more

Not many documentaries will get the joint jumping as easily as "Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story" manages to do with its smorgasbord of Big Easy panache.

The movie's music quickly becomes the key ingredient to making toes tap and shoulders shimmy from the get-go, but the unmatched culture, mouth-watering cuisine and often fascinating history of NOLA gets so easily unveiled, too, that its touristy telling hardly ever seems intrusive.

Of course, it never hurts that a great crew of artists-turned talking heads, such as legendary crooner Tom Jones or Cuban-American superstar Pitbull -- neither exactly what you would call a classic jazzman -- immediately interject personal feelings about what happens every year at the world famous, 50-year-old New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

I mean, even before an event organizer mentions "7,000 musicians on 14 stages for eight days," Jones exclaims, "Wow! This is the real stuff!" or Pitbull (real name Armando Christian Perez) touts, "I can give you just one word: Magical!"

Truly most significantly, the latter is among the slew of "names you know and others you should know," coming through with as many sizzling as moving performances and more than enough to match the lavish words of local praise. They include Al Green, the entire Marsalis royal family of jazz, Aaron Neville, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Earth Wind & Fire and even Jimmy Buffett. 

The original old Parrothead, doubling here as the film's executive producer, now calls himself "a child of Mardi Gras." You might, too.

 Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: brief language and some suggestive material; 1:35; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Also scheduled to open in theaters today: Crimes of the FutureEiffel, Watcher, and White Elephant. Streaming: Fire Island (Hulu), Hollywood Stargirl (Disney+) and Interceptor (Netflix).

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