Vocalist Tonya Boyd-Cannon kicks off the title cut of Jazz Party with a spirit that embraces the album’s name. It’s a swinging number and one of seven originals by Delfeayo Marsalis, the band’s leader and trombonist who steps up for a fine solo before Boyd-Cannon jumps in again for some scatting.
The festivities really heat up when the Orchestra revives a classic Dirty Dozen [Brass Band] song, “Blackbird Special.” Baritonist Roger Lewis, an original Dozen member and an always inventively progressive musician, plays the familiar opening that initially drives the street beat. Keeping the second-line flavor of the tune, which deserves this fine resurrection, a whistle blows to encourage the forward motion. The ensemble takes it to the streets again on the Soul Rebels’ timeless classic, “Let Your Mind Be Free.” It’s easy to tell these guys know this tune well as they really hit hard with their ensemble work. Importantly, because of the significance of the wise messages in the lyrics, the band does sing. The solos by saxophonist Roderick Paulin, trombonist T.J. Norris and trumpeter Scott Frock are blazin’ and pushed by the incredible drumming of Joe Dyson.
The orchestra gets funky on another Marsalis original, “Dr. Hargroove,” a danceable number with Raymond Weber taking over on drums. Saxophonist Khari Allen Lee and trumpeter Andrew Baham display their modern jazz chops on this groove of a tune. Marsalis takes advantage of the diversity of the musical backgrounds of these New Orleans musicians and generously spreads solos around throughout the band.
Jazz Party lives up to its name, though it’s not a celebration happening just anywhere. It’s a New Orleans party.