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Music's greatest legends re-enact the birth of jazz in this song-filled tribute to the town where it all began: New Orleans.
Arturo De Cordova stars as Nick, the proprietor of a Bourbon Street gambling joint, an artistic haven for black musicians who gather to jam from dusk 'til dawn. When he falls in love with an opera-singing socialite (Dorothy Patrick), Nick realizes that only through music will he gain respectability, and launches a campaign to thrust the disreputable music known as jazz onto the highbrow American stage.
A refreshing rediscovery, New Orleans is especially noteworthy for its lack of racial stereotypes, as well as for the high caliber of performances delivered by its stellar cast, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Woody Herman, Kid Ory, Meade Lux Lewis and more.
Perhaps the film's most memorable number is "Farewell to Storyville," a haunting blues melody sung by Billie Holiday as she leads a procession of black musicians exiled from the city -- a sequence that beautifully captures the melancholy and grace of Holiday's inimitable performance style. Other musical highlights include Holiday's rendition of "New Orleans," Armstrong's "Endie" and "Where the Blues Were Born," and their duet "The Blues are Brewin'".
Also included on the DVD edition only are two musical shorts from Paramount Studios (A Rhapsody In Black And Blue featuring Armstrong and Symphony In Black with Holiday and Duke Ellington) as well as an essay on the making of New Orleans, which originated as a project for Orson Welles.