Last night, I had the pleasure of playing with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra directed by Irvin Mayfield in State College, PA. I’m not a regular member of the group, but I usually end up doing something with them every 6 months or so. This gives me an interesting perspective to watch the group’s development.
The band has always swung very hard and had great soloists, but over my last couple of stints with the band, I have really noticed how the depth of both the material and the performances has increased. Much of the music is very roots/tradition based, but there are times when the stuff gets pretty out as well. There is an honestness and an organic balance to the group’s performances. Some of this is due to Irvin’s vision and leadership, and a lot of it is due to the fact that the band’s featured players are all super bad. Last night featured great performances from Ed Petersen, Evan Christopher, Herlin Riley…the whole band is slammin’.
If you get a chance to hear the NOJO, don’t miss it.