New Orleans, LA — Delfeayo Marsalis, a favorite son of New Orleans’ decorated music royalty, serves up his latest decadent offering entitled Jazz Party with the Uptown Jazz Orchestra (UJO).
For the better part of a decade, the acclaimed trombonist, producer, and composer have spent Wednesday nights at the helm of his dynamic UJO’s residency at Snug Harbor in New Orleans. Jazz Party, Marsalis’ seventh album as a leader, delivers an original composition-heavy set of music that showcases the same exuberant energy of those shows, complete with modernized twists on New Orleans songbook gems and musical traditions, and swinging, groove-infused homages to the contributions of modern jazz masters.
Released during the Mardi Gras season, Jazz Party opens with a laidback and languorous title track that brings The Voice alum Tonya Boyd-Cannon’s gospel roots in touch with the band’s preternatural sense of groove.
“Jazz Party is the best example of how jazz was always meant to be performed: of the people, for the people, and by the people. We add in R&B, funk, hip-hop, street beat, bounce, blues… You name it. Any music that’s got a strong groove or beat, we play it while adding that extra N’awlins spice!” says Marsalis.
The Dirty Dozen’s Roger Lewis, an original member of the UJO, contributes an album highlight with his burning “Blackbird Special” solo as the band delivers a perfect balance of wiggle, funk, and propulsive motion that urges its way forward, second line-style.
Another standout, the Marsalis original “Raid on the Mingus House Party,” turns up the tension with a dramatic horn section performance that kicks off the narrative arc implied by the title before Ryan Hanseler’s gorgeously restrained piano work guides the melody away from the proverbial cliff’s edge. According to Marsalis, it was inspired by “aspects of the current social climate in America” that seem to be continually “heightened by extreme political negativity, mass shootings, and racial community divisions.” When all ten of the tune’s moving melodic parts get resolved, the music reminds us that, as Marsalis puts it, “love for humanity” really can “reign victorious” even in the most troubled and confusing times.
Jazz Party offers a deftly varied look at the role of joy, humor and straight-up fun in jazz, an art form Marsalis points out in his liner notes was created by a group of people seeking to “define life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in a “psychological vacuum” necessitated by the systematic denial of their own human rights. That one band can so compellingly reflect the many nuances embedded in that fundamental cultural concept is a major artistic achievement in itself.
Over the course of his prolific career, trombonist, composer, producer, educator, and NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis has been hailed as one of the “most imaginative… trombonists of his generation,” a title that reflects decades of musical exploration, preparation, and risk-taking, much of which began during his childhood in New Orleans, where his father, Ellis Marsalis, introduced him to jazz in the family home. He’s gone on to produce more than 100 recordings for artists including his brothers, his father, Spike Lee, Harry Connick, Jr., Terence Blanchard, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and others. Marsalis has toured internationally with bands led by Art Blakey, Slide Hampton, Abdullah Ibrahim, Max Roach, and Elvin Jones, as well as his own groups.
Spiked with the NEA Jazz Master’s wry wit and visionary production acumen, Jazz Party sees Marsalis – along with Roger Lewis, Terrance Taplin, Khari Lee, and more of the Crescent City’s finest musicians – making a strong musical case for the notion modern New Orleans jazz can and should be as celebratory in nature as it is cerebral in execution.
For more information on Delfeayo Marsalis, press materials (including album, promotional photos, and logos), please visit www.dmarsalis.com or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/delfeayomarsalis