Jazz Up Your Thursday Evening: UNO Hosts World-Renowned Trumpeters Irvin Mayfield, Jr. and Kermit Ruffins

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and this week the University of New Orleans has reason to celebrate. World-renowned American jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield Jr. will speak on campus Thursday evening. Following his lecture, crowds are invited to head to the Sandbar at The Cove to enjoy a rocking evening with Kermit Ruffins and The Barbecue Swingers.

The New Orleans Jazz Institute, an alliance between the University of New Orleans and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to inspire and educate youth about the world of jazz, will co-host the evening. Founded in 2008, NOJI aims to link UNO’s strengths in jazz education with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s strengths in professional practice and performance. NOJI serves to promote creative excellence and best practices in jazz composition, performance, scholarship, importation, exportation and education.

Mayfield, who is a professor of professional practice in UNO's music department, will host his biannual lecture “Advancing the Conversation on Artistic Literacy” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13 in Room 103 of the Education Building at UNO, said Stephanie Mayne, chief of staff to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Following the lecture, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers will perform from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Sandbar at The Cove on the west side of campus.  Both events are free and open to the public.

Mayfield is a world-renowned and Grammy Award-Winning performer of jazz who speaks twice a year at UNO in his role as leader of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and New Orleans Jazz Institute. A founder and leader of the Afro-Cuban jazz group Los Hombres Calientes since 1998, Mayfield has released 10 albums. Since 2003, he has served as cultural ambassador of the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana. With every opportunity, he trumpets the city as the birthplace and home of jazz.

“Jazz is in the heart -- no, the soul -- of those who embrace it. And this city has been seduced by it,” Mayfield says in a video on his website encouraging visitors to see him play at Irvin Mayfield’s Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. “Jazz has inspired greatness and consoled great sadness. Jazz is the art form that speaks directly to the angels. It pits instrument against instrument towards one glorious goal: harmony. When a trumpet screams, when a bone cries, when fingers move faster than feet can fly, you know you have witnessed its magic.”

Ruffins is a New Orleans jazz trumpeter, singer and composer from New Orleans, who in 1983 co-founded the world-famous Rebirth Brass Band. He modeled the Rebirth Brass Band similarly to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which introduced funk, jazz, soul, hip hop and contemporary beats to New Orleans style brass band music. Both bands remain well known in New Orleans jazz and music circles and New Orleans society at large. Their names continue to be recognized by jazz aficionados, music enthusiasts and travelers from around the world.

In 1992, Ruffins founded a traditional jazz quintet and entitled it the Barbecue Swingers, due to his self-styled habit of cooking barbecue at his shows. Since the early 1990s, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers have played every Thursday at Vaughan's Bar and Lounge in the Bywater neighborhood, where Ruffins recorded his 2007 Basin Street Records release, Live at Vaughan's. This week, Ruffins and his jazz quintet will break tradition to play at the Sandbar at The Cove.

Ruffins can also often be found behind the counter or behind the music at Kermit's Treme Speakeasy Restaurant & Bar on Basin Street.