Music

Delfeayo Marsalis Makes a Joyful Noise on 'Jazz Party'

Photo: Zack Smith Photography / Courtesy of the artist

Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis takes the sound of an all-night throwdown in the French Quarter worldwide with help from his mighty Uptown Jazz Orchestra.

Jazz Party
Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra

Troubador Jass

7 February 2020

Faubourg Marigny rests just outside the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was named after Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a colorful character who, among other dubious accomplishments, is credited for bringing the game of craps to New Orleans from England. In the early 1800s - shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, Marigny divided up his land (to pay off his many gambling debts) into the city's first subdivision. Over the years, the neighborhood has become a vibrant center of commercial and industrial, as well as residential activity. Creole architecture sits alongside American cottages and townhouses. Jelly Roll Morton grew up here (on Frenchmen Street).

Nineteenth-century storefronts also still stand, as is the case with Snug Harbor. It's a bar, dining, and music room in the Marigny where you can find Delfeayo Marsalis and his Uptown Jazz Orchestra performing most Wednesday nights to a packed house - and packed is an understatement; think, squished. That's okay with Marsalis. "Squished up is actually better," he says, "because you can hear what guys are playing. A lot of time, if you're in a situation when you're spread apart you don't really feel the vibration of the music that well."

That sort of excitement suits Marsalis just fine. Yes, as if you didn't know, he is part of that Marsalis family. A trombonist of renown, he's also a prolific producer, helming projects by everyone from Harry Connick, Jr and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, to his father and brothers. Since 2008 he's fronted the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, and their latest, Jazz Party, although only their second studio album together, is the best representation of Marsalis and his colleagues to date.

Jazz Party is first and foremost what it advertises: a party album. It isn't for analyzing, it's for experiencing. Marsalis points out in his extensive liner notes that the best jazz is meant to be joyful, and Jazz Party is nothing if it's not filled with mirth of the highest order.

Tonya Boyd-Cannon's contralto voice is the first thing you hear as she welcomes us into a world where we're at the center of an all night New Orleans rave up. The sound conjured on the opening cut (and title track) is more straight up gospel than jazz, but it underscores the close link jazz, gospel, and the blues all have, especially in the South, and especially in New Orleans.

The Uptown Jazz Orchestra fills every inch of the room with a joyous noise throughout. They tackle the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's "Blackbird Special" with the vigor of James Brown's Famous Flames on a hot night in Storyville; while "Raid on the Mingus House Party" captures the controlled chaotic feel of its namesake.

One of the many highlights on Jazz Party is "So New Orleans", featuring vocals from Dr. Brice Miller who is - according to his Twitter account - a "New Orleans-based scholar, researcher, author, educator, jazz trumpeter, vocalist, community activist, mentor, father, husband, custom car builder, and humanitarian." Over a second-line groove, Miller shares his NOLA pride in true call-and-response fashion.

"Mboya's Midnight Cocktail" is a tribute to Delfeayo's younger brother. On the spectrum, Marsalis shares, Mboya is non-verbal but likes to get "suited up" and go out on the town. The song told from the viewpoint of a bartender (played by Karen Livers) who has eyes for the song's attractive subject, is a fun and sultry stopgap during all the festivities. It's like we're eavesdropping on her one-way conversation before we head off in another direction, where we encounter "Dr. Hardgroove" - a tribute to trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and a song with a deep groove that lives up to its name.

Jazz Party is a joy-filled experience without a shred of pretension. It makes you feel as if you're in the middle of the French Quarter on a Saturday night or up to no good during a festive and mischievous Mardi Gras celebration. The city has seen its share of hardship over the years, but as Jazz Party makes clear, New Orleans' resilience comes from the determination to have a damn good time in spite of it.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.