New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Clowes Memorial Hall
Friday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m., $16-$30
Trumpeter, composer and New Orleans Jazz Orchestra founding director Irvin Mayfield, a name synonymous with the authentic New Orleans jazz tradition, also identifies with the jazz state of Indiana, which he describes as a “cool place.” The NOJO concert at Clowes will include audience members of Mayfield’s Indiana family and a clutch of players including David Baker, with whom Mayfield recently appeared. During a recent telephone interview with NUVO, Mayfield paid tribute to Virtue Hampton Whitted and the Hampton Family Legacy. Mayfield reveres learning from elders, which he feels each new generation must pursue. “Jazz is lineage oriented,” he says. “You must respect what came before.”
Hurricane Katrina remains foremost in Mayfield’s mind. “Everyone knows what happened in New Orleans and government-built levees,” he says. The loss of his father as victim of drowning during the hurricane is a personal driving force in his community service as New Orleans’ Cultural Ambassador. “We [as a nation] have to come together to protect New Orleans culture. Not only jazz, which has become its centerpiece, but the historic significance of New Orleans as part of the heritage of the nation as a whole. The Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the territory and made our country what it is,” he says. “We know we have good times and bad times. Moving on is American optimism. What makes jazz so powerful is that it engages everybody. It’s the most democratic music. It’s the manifestation of democracy into music.”
Through the 16-piece NOJO, the Clowes audience should expect to hear and feel the French Quarter, the soul handed down from Louis Armstrong and on through Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie and currently, also with Mayfield’s fellow trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis.
Note: Hear a 7:15 p.m. pre-performance presentation by Joel Harrison, artistic director of the American Pianists Association and the Indy Jazz Fest Feb. 2 in the Krannert Room at Clowes. You can read more about the NOJO online at www.nuvo.net in the Jan. 24-31 news story, “Plenty to do in the world,” by David Hoppe.