Having blown out 40 birthday candles in 2017, you have to wonder if “Jazz in Marciac” has enough lung power left to revive the glowing embers of the last four decades. Diverse, ground-breaking, high level and discovery are the key words for the 2018 festival, dominated by an invisible yet ever present landmark : the birth of New Orleans 300 years ago! As if the blend of culture and music from Mississippi’s Delta had been symbolically transported and nestled between two hills in the Gers region for a long summer Mardi Gras.
If we can agree on the birthplace of jazz, before it spread northwards through the United States and then to the rest of the world, it’s easy to forget that the New Orleans melting pot was already in place at the beginning of the 20th century. Its musical expressions, far from excluding, ended up complementing and highlighting one another, giving birth to a free, yet structured collective known as the New Orleans style. That was the starting point of a major art form, which continues to be welcoming to those for whom individual expression through improvisation takes precedence over endogenous codes, in their quest for musical freedom.
Otherwise, how does one explain Wynton Marsalis mixing horns with Ibrahim Maalouf, the Quatuor Debussy slumming it with Jacky Terrasson (unless it’s the other way round ?), the group Airès breaking boundaries between baroque, classical and jazz, or that through Eric Bibb’s blues and Cory Henry’s funk fi esta, there fl ies a single soul ? Even the likes of peace-loving Joan Baez and fi ery latin-rock Carlos Santana pay their dues playing in Marciac. A little village? More like a motherland where a handful of luminaries have been tearing down walls, year after year.