The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) Celebrates A Decade

Every year in August jazz trumpeter, composer, impresario and music mover-and-shaker Irvin Mayfield presents a series of concerts he calls the Love Sessions. Each session’s ticket sales benefits local non-profit organizations. It’s a very smart move because these event not only promote jazz, the give local musicians a paying gig, bring customers into local venues to spend money, and also benefit non-profits who need all the monetary support that they can muster. So it’s a win-win-win situation for everything involved.

In business, if you want to be in it for the long haul, it’s certainly prudent to work out partnerships where everyone feels as though they are invested in producing a good event.

Irvin Mayfield

I think Mayfield is really good at this, and so is the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), the jazz orchestra he leads. The NOJO is celebrating their tenth anniversary year with a kick-off concert this weekend at Tipitina’s on Saturday, September 15 at 10 p.m. with special guest Ledisi, a New Orleans-born Grammy-nominated singer.

This is a big year for NOJO, with Mayfield also giving a lecture on “Artistic Literacy” on Thursday, September 13 at 6 p.m. in the University of New Orleans Education Building (Room 103), with a concert by Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers at the newly renovated Cove Student Center at 7:30 p.m. These events are free and open to the public.

The NOJO and Mayfield will also celebrate their accomplishments by playing in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on October 8 with guests Dee Dee Bridgewater, Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams, Branford Marsalis, Aaron Neville, the Sphinx Virtuosi String Chamber Orchestra and other artists, with Soledad O’Brien hosting. Their tenth year celebration continues at the end of the month with a Tribute to Ray Charles featuring the NOJO and Shannon Powell; and a monthlong Masters Series featuring Steve Masakowski, Victor Atkins, Ed Petersen and more. The full schedule of events can be viewed online.

Ten years sounds like a long time, but if you live in New Orleans, you know it takes a lot longer to really accomplish anything substantial. There are just so many hoops one has to jump through. Mayfield and his business partner, and Executive Director of NOJO, Ron Markham (a remarkable pianist in his own right) have accomplished a lot in 10 years. They’ve made strong connections; they’ve solidly established the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and they developed music and educational programming that certainly brings New Orleans jazz into the consciousness of eager partners both inside and outside New Orleans who want to be part of spreading the gospel of our music worldwide.

Bravo, and here’s to many more decades of promoting  and developing the market for our most precious natural local resource: jazz.

Here’s a YouTube video of Markham (no jazz slouch himself):