A roster of distinguished musicians will be featured in the fall 2015 edition of the Jazz at the Sandbar series, continuing a University of New Orleans tradition that's lasted more than a quarter-century. All shows are at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in The Cove on the UNO's Lakefront campus. Admission is free to the UNO campus community and $5 to the general public.
Jazz at the Sandbar was established in 1990 by Ellis Marsalis, the first chairman of the jazz studies program at UNO. The series is designed to provide UNO jazz studies students an opportunity to get real life experience performing with professional musicians in front of a live audience. In keeping with recent tradition, Marsalis will kick off the new season and will be joined during his session by students in the Thelonious Monk Ensemble under the direction of Steve Masakowski. Marsalis is the premier modern jazz pianist of New Orleans and the father of a generation of contemporary jazz musicians who are considered to be today's international jazz leaders. Together with his sons Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason, the Marsalis clan is often referred to as "The First Family of Jazz."
Particular highlights of the fall season include the return of UNO jazz studies alumni who have gone on to forge their own successful careers.
Grammy-winning New Orleans native and former UNO jazz studies student Nicholas Payton returns to the Lakefront, bringing his upfront sounds and adventurous attitudes to perform with current students. Son of famed bassist Walter Payton, Nick was raised amid the traditions of Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong, but he had his "ah-ha" moment at age 11 when he first heard Miles Davis. His career has included performing and recording with Elvin Jones, Marcus Roberts, Wynton Marsalis, Esperanza Spaulding, Cassandra Wilson, Roy Hargrove, and he won a Grammy for his recording with Doc Cheatham. He has recorded on Verve, Warner Bros. and other labels. He released his newest recording, "Letters," in August.
UNO alumnus, pianist, and jazz educator Jesse McBride brings his band, The Next Generation, to the Jazz at the Sandbar for the first time in a tribute to the late UNO faculty member Harold Battiste. The legendary "Mr. Batt," a New Orleans musical pioneer who produced Sam Cooke and Sonny and Cher, among others, also served as mentor to McBride and The Next Generation.
Jesse McBride began playing the violin at age four, but was encouraged to play piano when he attended Houston's High School for the Performing Arts. McBride earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNO, and has performed with an all-star list of jazz luminaries, including Donald Harrison, Carmen Lundy, Stefon Harris and Wess Anderson, as well as Harold Battiste. October 28 would have been Mr. Batt's 84th birthday; Jazz at the Sandbar will celebrate with Jesse McBride performing one set with current UNO students, and a second set featuring McBride, Andrew Baham and fellow UNO alumni Rex Gregory and Jasen Weaver with The Next Generation.
This legendary original UNO-centric band returns to the stage in a rare reunion. The five musicians – trumpeter Mark Rapp, saxophonist and current faculty member Brent Rose, bassist Brady Kish, keyboard ace (and recent Cirque du Soleil alumnus) Charlie Denard and drummer Mark Deflorio formed their band while they were students in the jazz studies program. This all-star group will play one set, with another set featuring current UNO students.
Jazz at the Sandbar is presented by the UNO jazz studies program with support from the UNO Student Government Association, Offbeat Media, WWNO FM and the New Orleans Jazz Celebration. All admission proceeds go to the George Brumat Memorial Scholarship Fund. For more information, contact the UNO Department of Music at (504) 280-6381 or visit the New Orleans Jazz Celebration website.
October 7 - Pianist Ellis Marsalis
October 14 - Trumpeter Gabriel Alegria and dancer "Huevito" Lobatón
October 21 - Trumpeter Nicholas Payton
October 28 - Jesse McBride & The Next Generation: A Birthday Tribute to Harold Battiste
November 4 - Guitarist/Banjoist Carl LeBlanc
November 11 - Saxophonist Jason Marshall
November 18 - Quintology Reunion