The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra seems to be celebrating a rebirth just shy of its 20th anniversary. After a couple of major hurricanes, a global pandemic, and more, NOJO has withstood several adversities only to come out stronger than ever. As NOJO is able to perform in front of live audiences again, they performed select works of the late, great Allen Toussaint for the Big Beat Gala at their home on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.
Bounce Queen Diva Big Freedia announced Honorary Chair Walter Isaacson and Gala Chair Laverne Saulny, who emphasized the importance not only of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, but of the legacy that local jazz has had on the soundtrack of the world. The duo lovingly introduced NOJO’s Artistic Director Adonis Rose, who summoned the grand 20-piece orchestra to surround him on stage.
The auditorium was filled with the warm, inviting sounds of beloved songs including “Working on a Coal Mine,” made famous by Lee Dorsey, and “Java.” Vocalist Sasha Masakowski soon joined the band to sing several gorgeous songs including “It’s Raining,” “Basin St. Blues,” “Southern Nights,” “With You in Mind,” and “What a Wonderful World.”
Near to the end of the performance, Big Freedia came back out to get everyone on their feet and led the band around the entire auditorium, up into the second floor, and back onto the stage before everyone spilled out into the lobby area to dance. I cannot wait to see what NOJO has in store for us in 2022 and beyond.