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Feature Article NOJO Open Sky Jazz
Have you heard Evan Christopher?
Once you get past the outsized ego of its leader, trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, the burgeoning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra is potentially an exceptional representation of both the modern and traditional jazz fruits of the city. The orchestra, or NOJO as it is known, boasts such gifted players as saxophonists Ed Peterson and Derek Douget, trombonist Ron Westray, and the sturdy rhythm section of pianist Victor Atkins, bassist David Pulphus, and drummer Adonis Rose, versatile modernists steeped in the New Orleans traditions to be sure. Admit it, you may not have heard of these guys given the fact that unfortunately jazz musicians who choose to live outside the media centers often suffer in undue obscurity.
During the roughly 14 months in ’07/’08 that I spent living in New Orleans the "local" artists and music were a constant delight and discovery. For what is essentially a medium sized city with a peerless major metropolis culture, the number of world class musicians who live and work there per capita is staggering. During my time there catching sets at Snug Harbor, Tipitina’s, Ray’s Boom Boom Room and assorted other joints both Uptown and below Canal Street, and being privileged to host programs over mighty WWOZ, one of the most impressive musicians I heard is perhaps the revelation of NOJO, the clarinetist-saxophonist Evan Christopher. This brilliant musician manages a keen ear for both trad and modern jazz — versed in Django and Ornette — and plays both with brisk authority. If you haven’t heard him, all I can say is DON’T SLEEP!
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