News Column

New Orleans groove for JoJ

August 13, 2014



'WE'VE been trying to get back to South Africa since our last visit. It's been seven years since the sextet played at Joy |of Jazz. This time we're going to bring The Jazz Orchestra," said trombonist, arranger, composer |and educator, Delfeayo Marsalis (pictured).

"The Jazz Orchestra project came about in 2008. I played with a different big band here in New Orleans and it just wasn't right; the guys weren't swinging, it wasn't grooving, in fact, we were playing a Christmas concert and there were a lot of arrangements in minor keys.

"It was a concert for kids and I was checking the kids out and they were looking like, 'this is a strange Christmas, everything is in a minor key and it's not swinging'. (A minor key can have a sad, melancholic feel about it.) Because it wasn't grooving |I said I'm going to start a jazz orchestra, which I did. At our first concert we played Ellington's Nutcracker (Suite) and it's been |going since then.

"My feeling about American music, or really any music is, you can get away with a lot if it's grooving. So I'll say we have been cultivating New Orleans spontaneity and that groove that we are known for in New Orleans."

To the question, are these young players or professional players, or is this a school band, he said: "Well, it's a combination. We have veterans and young players, one of whom is going to Julliard next year. Typically, the band is about a 15-piece, but we'll be bringing out about 18 to 20 musicians.

"My philosophy is to involve as many people as possible, so we're going to bring these guys and just have a good time. We have so many different personalities (in the band), that one of the great designs of |The Jazz Orchestra is to showcase |the various players and their personalities, so that the audience has a feeling of knowing more about the musicians after the concert has concluded.

"I've written a song for Nelson Mandela which we are going to play that I'm very excited about. We had a celebration here for Mr Mandela last December and I wrote this particular song over the weekend for a special concert. I then had it arranged for The Jazz Orchestra.

"The line-up is six saxophones, four trombones, four or five trumpets and three rhythm (piano, bass, drums). We also have a few tricks up our sleeve. I believe it will be a very enjoyable show. Everybody has a chance to shine."

All of a sudden he says: "I have a children's book which just came out. It's a picture book and it's called No Cell Phone. It's a fun book and we've been winning a couple of awards. It's wonderfully illustrated."

In parting he said: "My last visit |to South Africa was such a great learning experience and I will always cherish meeting Mister Jonas Gwangwa and the time we spent together was very special.

"There's something very special and magnetic about South Africa. It's a very special place. I'm happy to be coming back."

l Delfeayo Marsalis and The Jazz Orchestra will be playing at Joy of Jazz on Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27. Book at Computicket.

Cape Argus


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Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)


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