Jazz Fest: The Death and Rebirth of the NOJO, Pt. 1

In his best days with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), Victor Atkins could have supported himself. Not his wife and kids, and a mortgage would have been tough, but he could have handled the one-room apartment he lived in for a while, furnished only with a futon and a piano. On some of the longer national tours early on, he got paid not on a per-gig basis but on a contract for the tour, and that worked out pretty well.

Get the Mayfield Story Right

When Keith Spera interviewed Irvin Mayfield after one of his birthday gigs at the Little Gem Saloon in December, Mayfield said, “I’m trying to do the best I can do, doing my job, when I get up there…. When you’ve got kids, when you’ve got to pay the bills … that recording session doesn’t care about Entergy. Practice doesn’t care if it’s Christmas—you still have to practice….

Irvin Mayfield Wants Clarity for Christmas

Musically, Irvin Mayfield often leaves no doubt of his talent, but A New Orleans Creole Christmas by Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse is a pleasingly modest EP. He’s all over the recording, but the eight songs are far more about the communal spirit of the season than Mayfield’s ambition. The version of “O Tannenbaum” is firmly in the traditional jazz voice, but all of the arrangements have a clear sense of the city.