When the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra plays, people give it a standing ovation. The reason is obvious, the 14-piece ensemble is filled with musicians who love to play music for music's sake. And once the band gets into a free-playing jam, it's like a savory dish of musical gumbo.
Friday night's performance at Kingsbury Hall brought a bit of Louisiana to Utah. The swinging sound of the horns, piano, bass and drums, along with the cool-cat musicality, only caused the audience to scream for more when the show was finished.
The first song out the chute was a catchy little ditty called "Rising Tide." From the get-go, the band launched into extended instrumentals and let various players take the spotlight for some mind-bending solos.
A street-wise, stand-up-bass-intro strut of "Higher Ground" tickled the audience members' ears as band leader/artistic director Irvin Mayfield led the guys on a finger-snapping trip.
The Cuban-calypso flavored "Beat" featured all the saxophonists, trombonists and trumpeters sparring throughout the piece. Even the drummer was able to grab some spotlight during the work.
Mayfield took time to address the audience throughout the evening.
"Are you having fun?" he asked. "Because we're having a blast on stage."
Up next was the gospel-influenced "The Prayer," which was dedicated to New Orleans' first-lady of gospel Mahalia Jackson. And a clarinet solo served as the highlight of "It's a Creole Thing, You Wouldn't Understand."
One of the trumpeters, Leon Brown, then took on the vocals for a rousing version of "All of Me" and jammed it out with select members of the band, creating a seemingly impromptu Dixieland quartet.
On a somber note, the band dedicated it's show capper to Mayfield's father, Irvin Mayfield Sr. The elder Mayfield was among the casualties of Hurricane Katrina. The song "May His Soul Rest in Peace" started with a video montage of scenes from post-Katrina New Orleans and finished with a coda that featured a soulful trumpet excerpt from "When the Saints Come Marching In," played by the younger Mayfield.All the audience could do was give a rousing standing ovation.