Stella Edwards traveled an hour from her home in the community of Lucy, between Edgard and Killona on the west bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, for Jazz at the Sandbar at the University of New Orleans on Wednesday night.
Certainly the opportunity to see master jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis perform for a $5 cover charge was her primary motivation. But once there, she was rewarded by the embrace of a community that shares her delight in America’s classical music.
“It’s become a tradition, and we love traditions in New Orleans,” Jason Patterson, jazz producer for Snug Harbor, said in announcing Marsalis’ participation in the initial performance of the 2012 fall season of Jazz at the Sandbar. The performance series, established in 1990 when Marsalis was chairman of the jazz studies program, pairs UNO student ensembles on the bandstand with established jazz professionals.
Performing Wednesday night was the UNO Jazz Combo under the direction of Victor Atkins III. The players were: James Partridge, tenor saxophone; Emily Fredrickson, trombone; Brian Murray, trumpet; Jordan Baker, piano, Tanarat Chaichana, bass; and Peter Varnado, drums.
The Cove was built in 1973, and reopened in December 2011 after Hurricane Katrina repairs and renovations. It’s a lovely venue, opening onto a courtyard landscaped lushly enough to create a sense of separation from nearby, convenient parking lots. When the weather is pleasant, as it was Wednesday, two wall panels are drawn up like stylish garage doors and the music room and courtyard merge. Burgers and fries, and beer and wine, are available for purchase, and the room is long enough to allow conversation in the back without disturbing the music listeners in the front.
The UNO Jazz Combo’s first set Wednesday included “The Soulful Mr. Timmons,” by James Williams, a pianist who performed with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as well as his own ensembles; “Footprints” by Wayne Shorter; “Emily” by Johnny Mandel, which was first performed by Julie Andrews in the 1964 movie “The Americanization of Emily”; andd “Teo” by Thelonious Monk. Student pianist Jordan Baker played on the first two of these, and Marsalis on the rest.
The second set included “Wheel Within a Wheel” by Bobby Timmons; “Have You Met Miss Jones,” by Richard Rodgers; “Cherokee” by Ray Noble; “Girl from Ipanema” by Antonio Carlos Jobim; “Invitation” by Bronislau Kaper; and “Proclamation” by Geoff Keezer. Baker played piano on “Wheel Within a Wheel” and “Cherokee” and “Proclamation,” and Marsalis on the others.
All Jazz at the Sandbar performances this fall are on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The schedule of guest artists is:
- Saxophonist Derek Douget, Oct. 10
- Pianist Jonathan Lefcoski, Oct. 17
- Victor Atkins III, Steve Masakowski and Ed Petersen, Oct. 24
- Pianist Joanne Brackeen, Oct. 31
- Guitarist Ted Ludwig, Nov. 7
- Trumpeter Mark Braud, Nov. 14
“Jazz at the Sandbar” is presented by the UNO Jazz Studies Program with support from the UNO Student Government Association, WWNO Public Radio, Nate & Priscilla Gordon, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the UNO International Alumni Association and the New Orleans Jazz Celebration.
All proceeds go to the George Brumat Memorial Scholarship Fund. For more information, call the UNO Music Department at 504.280.6039.