Irvin Mayfield Leads New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

The best of the Big Easy comes to the Emerald City as master jazz trumpet player Irvin Mayfield leads the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra in five Seattle Pops series concerts at Benaroya Hall.

As part of their "New Orleans: Then and Now" tour, Mayfield and the Orchestra will perform Thursday, January 22, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 23, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, January 24, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, January 25, at 2 p.m., featuring the unique brand of jazz, blues, swing and spirituals that makes the music of New Orleans one of America’s most beloved national treasures.

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), founded in December 2002 by artistic director Irvin Mayfield, is the premier performing and presenting jazz institution based in post-Katrina New Orleans. This spirited, swinging, 16-piece band is steeped in the tradition of New Orleans jazz, blues, swing and spirituals, and performs and presents educational programs that draw upon the rich musical and cultural traditions of its home town. As a touring ensemble, NOJO is regularly presented at the country's most prestigious venues, with performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Chicago's Ravinia Festival, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Seattle's Benaroya Hall, Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, UCLA's Royce Hall, SFJAZZ at The Palace, and Miami and Orange County's new performing arts centers. Last season, NOJO made its debut performances in the symphony halls of Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota, as well as at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, UC Davis' Mondavi Center, the University of Illinois' Krannert Center and Omaha's new Holland Performing Arts Center.

Firmly committed to education, NOJO offers master classes led by Irvin Mayfield and interactive jazz outreach activities for young people entitled "A Visit with Jazz.” 2008–2009 highlights include performances of their new program titled "Do You Know What It Means?," a vibrant collection of Mayfield's big band arrangements of traditional New Orleans jazz, blues, swing and spirituals. This special program evokes the wondrous blues sound, the incredible food, the magnificent architecture, the creative literary spirit and the celebratory joie de vivre of New Orleans.

NOJO’s national tour, "New Orleans: Then and Now," gives concert goers a taste of the city's unsurpassed musical heritage and history. Every tune invokes the rich cultural traditions and legacies of America's most unique city, the birthplace of jazz. From "The Elder Negro Speaks", a song that brings the city to life with a traditional second line celebrating death and rebirth, to "St. James Infirmary", which harkens back to Louis Armstrong and the early days of jazz, listeners experience the vibrant spirit of New Orleans. It's a place where history is a part of everyday life, resiliency is defined by its people and swinging is a birthright. Like Mardi Gras parades, "New Orleans: Then and Now" is an uninhibited party -- and an experience of a lifetime.

Irvin Mayfield

The New York Times has recognized "[Irvin] Mayfield's development from child prodigy — he began playing the trumpet at age 9 — to one of the city's most ambitious musical entrepreneurs." In September 2003, Mayfield was appointed to the post of Cultural Ambassador for the City of New Orleans by the United State Senate, House of Representatives and the governing bodies of Louisiana, further establishing him as a musician who embodies and represents the great New Orleans jazz legacy. In addition to his position as Founder and Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Mayfield co-founded the New Orleans–flavored, Latin jazz band Los Hombres Calientes with percussionist Bill Summers, and also leads his own band, the Irvin Mayfield Quintet.

As a Basin Street Records artist, Mayfield has released 10 albums and appeared on or produced numerous other records. He also served as Artist in Residence at Dillard University from 1995–2005, where he founded the Institute of Jazz Culture at Dillard. He has also held Artist in Residence appointments at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA), Riverside Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans and Tulane University. In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mayfield has participated in several Hurricane-related fundraisers, including the critically acclaimed Higher Ground benefit concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. -- www.seattlesymphony.org

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