Classified in the Studio

In many music documentaries, live performances grind the narrative to a halt, and as good as the performances may be, they leave viewers with the suspicion that they’re why the movie exists - to show them, and that the whole project is an extended, very public act of fandom. When Lily Keber’s Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker screened at this year’s New Orleans Film Festival, the vibe was far less indulgent. Sequences of Booker in concert were more than See? Look! Wasn’t he great?! moments.

Dayna Kurtz in the Moment

During her set this year at Jazz Fest, Dayna Kurtz had a moment. It was the subtle difference between a band simply playing songs well and a band completely in the moment, but it was there. Writer John Swenson heard it in Kurtz's cover of Eddie Bo's "So Glad." I heard it about three songs in when John Gros joined the band on the Hammond B-3. One perfectly timed sweep across the keyboard fed the moment perfectly to Kurtz and she seized it.