New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Putting “Jazz” back in Music

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Gabrielle Cassava, trombones and trumpets section. Photo credit: Atael Weissman

At the end of the evening – just after a performance of “Tremé”, by John Boutté (another iconic son of New Orleans) and the Second Line on “Do What You Wanna” – it was hard to leave the venue. I, for one, wanted to hang back and soak in the echoes of the music by one of the most vibrant big bands in the world.

Like many iconic cultural figures in New Orleans Mr allen Toussaint weathered the great challenges of life with a nobility that will forever be reflected in his music

I wanted to soak in the community that Jazz brought me – indeed all of us – but not only that night; every night I choose to put on an LP which features the music. Jazz… Perhaps the most significant description of it is “community”. It is, after all the music of Black Americans, descended from The Blues which, once upon a time it helped alleviate the pain of slavery. But it was – and is – enormously cathartic. It leaves you feeling drained but happy just as once the ancient griots of African civilisation did for their communities and like the epic drama of ancient Greece did for their communities. If you believe, as I do, that one of the greatest joys for a Jazz musician – more than composing and improvising, more than dazzling melody, harmonic and rhythmic conception – it is building and sustaining healthy community. And we experienced all of this with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra on the last day of February 2020.

Ashlin Parker and Ricio Fruge. Photo credit Danilo Navas
Ashlin Parker and Ricio Fruge. Photo credit Danilo Navas

The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra had also done, once again, exactly what they had set out to do, which was to honour the music (and memory) of the great Allen Toussaint, favourite son of New Orleans and one of the finest – sometimes unsung – composers in Jazz. Like many iconic cultural figures in New Orleans Mr Toussaint weathered the great challenges of life with a nobility that will forever be reflected in his music, a legacy so rich that it continues to enrich our lives – for now and for always in performances by one of the premier large ensembles of our time, anywhere in the world: the great New Orleans Jazz Orchestra directed by the incomparable Adonis Rose.

The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra – Adonis Rose: director and drums; Dr Brice Miller: trumpet; Barney Floyd: trumpet; Ashlin Parker: trumpet; Ricio Fruge: trumpet; Terrance Taplin: trombone; Michael Watson: trombone and vocals; Christopher Butcher: trombone; Steven Glenn: tuba; Khari Allen Lee: alto saxophone; Bryan McNamara: alto saxophone; Ricardo Pascal: tenor and soprano saxophones; Norbert Stachel: tenor saxophone; Trevarri Huff-Boone: baritone saxophone; Victor Atkins: piano; Amina Michele Scott: contrabass; Gerald Watkins: drums; Alexey Marti: percussion; Gabrielle Cavassa: vocals.

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Putting “Jazz” back in Music
New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Second Line. Photo credit: Atael Weissman

Set list – 1st Set: 1: Get the Bucket; 2: Working in the Coal Mine; 3: Java; 4: It’s Raining; 5: Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans; 6: Southern Nights 2nd Set – 1: Come Sunday; 2: Basin Street Blues; 3: With You in Mind; 4: Tequila; 5: What a Wonderful World; 6: Tremé/ Do What You Wanna

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