If you've got blood in your veins, Congo Square will move it. This collaboration of Jazz at Lincoln Center and Ghanaian percussion ensamble Odadaa! boils with intensity from start to finish, a fitting tribute to Congo Square, once a tiny island of release for the slaves of New Orleans.
The cinematography is basic, but who cares? You don't have to watch the screen. The mix of African sounds and American jazz conjures the tumult, the chatter, and the dancing with compelling drums, horns, and here and there a vocal or spritz of sparkling piano. Congo Square is a crowd scene rather than a showcase for soloists, including Marsalis. Maybe closer to Gershwin than typical big band sounds.
This music is an accessible and exuberant achievement, a tonic for the pop weary. It richly deserves an audience.