Boutté headlines 21st Jazz Fest Shabbat

John Boutté, a featured performer on the HBO series “Treme,” headlined the 24th annual Jazz Fest Shabbat held at Touro Synagogue on Friday, April 27.

Attendees at the historic St. Charles Avenue sanctuary filled most every seat, enjoying a memorable night of prayer and revelry that marked the first weekend of the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Cantor Jaime Marks performed with the Panorama Jazz Band and the Touro Synagogue Choir in a traditional Shabbat evening service flavored with musical and vocal arrangements provided by the likes of Jewish musical giants Kurt Weill and Craig Taubman. Music Director Terry Maddox worked in tandem with Marks in leading the choir and directing the musicians, while Rabbi Alexis Berk provided commentary and ushered attendees from the more spiritual portions of the evening to the more secular program provided by Boutté, his backing band and the choir on the bimah.

Boutté kicked off his participation in  the program with the traditional gospel hymn “Wade in the Water” paired with the Hebrew hymn “Mi Chamochah” sung by the choir. His performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” received a standing ovation. Boutté’s final number was the theme song from “Treme” that he has helped to popularize.

Boutté was presented by event chair David Hammer with a decorated white tailcoat bearing colorful adornments including the name “Treme” emblazoned on its back. He eagerly donned it to the delight of the crowd.

The final selection was a jazzy version of “Adon Olom” that inspired the sporting of second line umbrellas and dancing in the aisles by attendees.

The Jazz Fest Shabbat was conceived in 1992 by the late Cantor Stephen Dubov and has been a wildly successful event every year since. Through the past two deacades it has spotlighted some of the most famous New Orleans musicians and singers including Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Kermit Ruffins, Theresa Andersson and Louisiana-born pianist Marcia Ball.

Prior to the public event several hundred Jazz Fest Shabbat patrons were treated to a private concert by Boutté and his band before enjoying a buffet meal in the social hall. Patrons defray the huge costs associated with the event.

Members of the Sophie Wright School Marching Band entertained attendees early in the evening as they arrived. Sophie Wright Charter School has an ongoing relationship with Touro Synagogue for financial and social activism support.

A large Oneg Shabbat sponsored by the Touro Synagoue Choir was held following the services in the Golden Pavilion and Jacobs Social Hall with Panorama Jazz Band providing musical accompaniment.

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