New Orleans Jazz Fest: A Pictorial History is an extraordinary documentation through photographs of the evolution of this yearly festival that in New Orleans has become a seasonal ritual comparable only to the revelry of Mardi Gras. Dividing the book into four sections of five-year periods, photographer Michael P. Smith has compiled a running history of the Fest from its first year, when it drew a crowd of only several hundred people to a small site in Congo Square, up through its third decade and its present 35-acre site on the Fair Grounds Race Track. Captured as never before are such musical greats as Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, and Bonnie Raitt, as well as lesser-known but well-remembered performers such as the Como Fife and Drum Corps, the Meters, and Big Joe Williams. The philosophy of the Jazz Fest has always been to create "an environment where people could communicate with the musicians on a conversational level, and feel as if they had touched them, "while preserving the musical forms that have developed in Louisiana. A combination of Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Rock, the traditional Louisiana sounds of Cajun and Zydeco, and the African/Caribbean/French sounds that were the basis for forms such as Reggae, the festival is truly a rare celebration of musical culture in general. The continuous change in the composition of the Jazz Fest makes this collection a vital historical document. Michael P. Smith is a veteran Jazz Fest photographer. His two other books on the music of New Orleans, Jazz Fest Memories and A Joyful Noise: A Celebration of New Orleans Music, are both published by Pelican, as is his Mardi Gras Indians.