Originally published as a Jazz Fest preview May 2, 2011 on DownBeat.com
A comprehensive celebration of Haitian culture is central to this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which began on April 29 and runs through May 8. The lineup includes performances by legendary Haitian artists, discussions about the country’s historic ties to New Orleans, and an audio exhibit about Alan Lomax’s travels to Haiti. The festival’s Haitian Pavilion offers an inside look at the heritage of a unique culture that has left a lasting imprint on the Crescent City. The musical programming, meanwhile, focuses on the country’s history of using music as a pulpit to express political dissent.