Fleur De Lis
The entire City of New Orleans becomes one big party during Mardi Gras, but Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra know that there’s no place to be, quite like Uptown on Mardi Gras Day. With their latest album, UJO provides the ultimate soundtrack for Carnival Time in the Crescent City with a spirited collection of Mardi Gras classics and buoyant new originals. Uptown on Mardi Gras Day is a celebration like no other, a unique combination of big band swing feel, small group jazz spirit, and brass band funkiness that would feel equally buoyant on the parade route or in the concert hall.
“This album is a celebration of the greatness of New Orleans culture,” Marsalis says. “Mardi Gras is an interesting time because people who are not from New Orleans descend upon the city to have a big party. The folks who live here are gracious and help them to have a great time, but when everybody leaves the community is still here. The music of Earl King or The Meters or Professor Longhair represents how they lived and who they were as humans. We wanted to do our best to honor that legacy. And besides, it’s just so funky. Lord have mercy!” Uptown on Mardi Gras Day is also a tribute to the city’s resilience in the face of yet another in a long history of setbacks.
In addition to the close-knit ensemble of gifted New Orleans musicians that makes up UJO, the album features guest appearances by Delfeayo’s brother Branford Marsalis on Saxophone, along with Drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, and Vocalists Glen-David Andrews, Dr. Brice Miller, and Tonya Boyd-Cannon. All of the arrangements for the session were crafted by both Marsalis and UJO Trumpeter Andrew Baham, who also contributes vocals on several tracks.
“After Hurricane Katrina, I realized that—as New Orleanians and musicians—we have a certain obligation to represent our culture,” Marsalis says. “The country is in a tough spot – the whole world is in a tough spot. New Orleans has always been a place that’s provided a certain type of healing for the country, especially with music that carries a joyful optimism. People young and old can’t wait to hear the brass bands coming down the street so they can dance and have a good time, and that’s what we’re trying to capture…a jazz party, all night long!”