The festival, created in 1970 by George Wein, has become one of the city's signature events. It brings hundreds of acts to the New Orleans Fairgrounds and to clubs all over the city, and includes brass bands, blues, pop, zydeco, world music, gospel, folk, and country music as well as jazz.
Last year, the festival, disrupted by heavy rains, lost money for the first time in its history. Lacking the funds to stage this year's festival, organizers held a competitive bidding process to choose a producer. In the end, Wein's Festival Productions retained the contract after agreeing to put up $2 million in startup costs.
Highlights of this year's festival include tributes to John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, and Doc Cheatham.
Among the jazz performers on the schedule are vocalists Shirley Horn and Madeleine Peyroux; trumpeter Nicholas Payton; saxophonists James Carter, Donald Harrison, Benny Golson, and Ravi Coltrane; and the Heath Brothers, as well as such local favorites as pianist Ellis Marsalis, trumpeter Kermit Ruffin, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.