After 20 years and three different venues, the University of New Orleans jazz series “Jazz at the Sandbar” is still going strong. Tonight, “Jazz at the Sandbar” will celebrate its 20th anniversary in a new home on UNO’s campus.
Jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis will kick off the series. Marsalis, who is the founding Chairman of the UNO Jazz Studies Program, started the series in 1990. According to UNO’s Web site, the series is unique in that UNO Jazz Studies students have the opportunity to perform with respected jazz masters in front of a live audience. Downbeat calls the performances series, “One of the best things going in America.”
“Jazz at the Sandbar” started in the Sandbar, a bar on UNO’s campus that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After the university reopened post-Katrina, the series found a temporary home in the University Center. This fall, “Jazz @ the Sandbar” will move to the Geoghegan Grand Ballroom in the Homer Hitt Alumni Center. The jazz series will return home to the Sandbar in the Cove building on campus after renovations are completed in spring of 2011.
An assortment of performers will grace the temporary Sandbar this season, some of whom have graduated from UNO’s Jazz Studies program and now enjoy successful careers. Trumpeter Jeremy Davenport, guitarist Ted Ludwig, and saxophonists Brice Winston and John Ellis are all alumni of the program. Jazz pianist Steve Pistorious will perform a tribute to Jelly Roll Morton on Morton’s birthday, October 20, and master South African drummer Nkanyezi Cele will perform a world jazz show on October 27. Finally, celebrated jazz singer Jacqui Naylor from San Francisco will close the series along with the UNO Jazz Voices on November 17.
“Jazz @ the Sandbar” will run every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. from September 29 to November 17. Its new location is in the Homer Hitt Alumni Center on Milneberg Road at the Lake on campus. A full lineup is at NOJC.org.