HL Does NOLA from A to Z: J is for JAZZ

J1 thek9harperlee

J is for jazz. I cannot possibly do a blog series about New Orleans without talking about jazz. After all, our city is known as the birthplace of jazz, and you can hear it everywhere: clubs and festivals, street corners and school yards. But how do I share New Orleans jazz with you? You can’t see it in pictures.

J2 thek9harperlee

No, jazz is something you have to hear. And when you hear jazz, you start to feel it . . . in your heart. And that’s what jazz is all about. So let me introduce you to just a few of our city’s great jazz artists. We’ll start with Louis Armstrong, or Satchmo as he was called. This native New Orleanian has been labeled a “foundational influence in jazz.” He’s known for his trumpet playing and gravelly voice.  Click here to listen to a 1929 recording of Armstrong and his orchestra performing “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

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 And then there’s Ellis Marsalis. This piano great has been a noted educator throughout New Orleans for years, influencing the careers of musicians like Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick, Jr., and four of his own sons: Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason. You can click here to watch the Ellis Marsalis Quartet perform “Twelve’s It” at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2012.

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Finally, I’d like for you to meet Irvin Mayfield, a Grammy and Billboard Award-winning trumpeter who is also the founder and artistic director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. He’s an educator, composer, cultural ambassador, and creator of jazz venues. Click here to watch a performance by Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at the Los Angeles Public Library from a couple of years ago.

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That’s just a little taste of New Orleans jazz. If you’re interested in hearing more, you might consider attending the French Quarter Festival or Satchmo SummerFest (which are both free and held in the French Quarter) or the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Or just take a stroll down Frenchmen Street and enjoy the music as it drifts out of the clubhouse doors. And about the pictures for this post: The first was taken in front of the Mississippi River, which carried New Orleans jazz to the world. The others were taken in front of our neighborhood school, ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy, which uses art-infused and arts-integrated strategies to educate K-8 students . . . keeping New Orleans jazz alive for generations to come.


This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Please click here for a link to the challenge homepage and a list of  the bloggers who are participating.


11 Comments on “HL Does NOLA from A to Z: J is for JAZZ”

  1. Ogee says:

    J for Jazz sure does bring out your beautiful smile, Miss Harper Lee!

  2. Cupcake says:

    Oh yeah, Miss HL. You are the jazziest girl in NewOrleans!

    Love and licks,

  3. Miss Harper Lee, thanks for this most informative Jazz post – and especially thanks for the Marsalis family connections – I never realized they were all kin.
    Of course, with that name, I should have guessed better!
    Moving on to K..

    • Awwww, thank you so much. It’s amazing how many musical families call New Orleans home. We were reminded of this during Jazz Fest the last two weekends. We’re pretty lucky to be surrounded by so many talented generations.

  4. Piglove says:

    We listen to all types of music here at the Hotel Thompson. But Jazz is something your heart feels and moves with. We love it! XOXO – Bacon

  5. Emmadog says:

    You are talking jazz, but I love all the art.

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