Friday, August 30, 2013
Grammy Award-Winner Irvin Mayfield's "New Orleans as Discourse" Class Starts with
a Visit from the President
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and UNO Professor of Professional Practice Irvin Mayfield
Jr. teaches a course called “New Orleans as Discourse.” In addition to his many musical
accomplishments and endeavors, Mayfield serves as a cultural ambassador for the city
of New Orleans and state of Louisiana.
Having a Grammy Award-winning musician on campus has its perks, especially when that
musician is famed trumpeter Irvin Mayfield Jr.
"New Orleans as Discourse"
President Peter J. Fos joins the first class of "New Orleans as Discourse" on Tuesday,
Sept. 4 in the Liberal Arts Bldg., Rm. 236.
Mayfield, who is a professor of professional practice in the University's esteemed
Music Department, teaches a course called "New Orleans as Discourse," that is structured
similarly to the television program "Inside the Actors Studio." Mayfield interviews
each guest about his or her background, experience, profession, inspirations and relation
to New Orleans culture. Students in the class participate through Q and A sessions
and insightful personal blogs prepared on assignment after each speaker visit. Each
interview is recorded for viewing and posted on the University website—and is discussed
on the class blog.
Past guests have included Soledad O'Brien, Chef John Besh, political correspondents
Mary Matalin and James Carville, David Simon of HBO's Treme, Saints owner Rita Benson
Leblanc, artist George Rodrigue, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, Dr. Corey Hebert,
former mayor Ray Nagin, Chef Susan Spicer, writer Lolis Eric Elie and many more.
This semester Mayfield starts his class with a visit from University President Peter
J. Fos. The campus community is welcomed and encouraged to attend and learn more about
the UNO leader, said Stephanie Mayne, chief of staff at New Orleans Jazz Orchestra,
where Mayfield is director.
"Every class is a bit different. Although Irvin typically asks the Proust Questionnaire
questions from 'Inside the Actors Studio' toward the end of each interview, the actual
conversation could include everything from childhood to university plans to his favorite
food...all depends on how the conversation develops in the interview," said Mayne.
"Typically they cover both personal and professional elements, however."
The class is important, Mayne said, "because it brings critical cultural leaders to
UNO's campus and allows students the opportunity to meet them, to learn about what
they do and how they became who they are, and to understand about important past,
present and future aspects of the city.
"We've had several students get internships and jobs with professionals whom they
may have never met otherwise, and students also leave the class with a comprehensive
understanding of culture. In a city this rich with culture, I think that is a vital
part of being involved in this community."
Biannual Lecture: "The Courage to Create"
In addition to teaching "New Orleans as Discourse" and a Jazz Studies Composition
Class at UNO, Mayfield also serves as director of the New Orleans Jazz Institute (NOJI),
"a partnership between NOJO and UNO that links UNO's strengths in Jazz education with
NOJO's professional and performance expertise," said Mayne in a recent press release.
"The Courage to Create"
Grammy Award-Winning Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr. hosts his biannual University lecture,
"The Courage to Create," at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17 in the UNO Education Building,
Room 103. Immediately following the lecture, Mayfield and students from UNO Jazz Studies
will perform together at The Cove. Both the lecture and performance are free and open
to the public.
The organization provides year-round music education and training for children ages
8-17, and strives to promote creative excellence and "best practices in jazz composition,
performance, scholarship, importation, exportation and education," she said.
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.
Mayfield hosts a biannual lecture at the University designed to heighten conversation
and thought on the current state of the arts, both locally and internationally. The
talks are designed to inform, educate and entertain, while luring audiences to serve
as better cultural ambassadors themselves.
Last year's show-stopping talk was entitled "Advancing the Conversation on Artistic
Literacy." The talk tied images used by media and politicians around the November
presidential elections to Hurricane Katrina and cultural symbols of tradition and
community to philosophical thought by the likes of Aristotle.
8th Annual NOJI Masters' Series at UNO
8th Annual NOJI Masters' Series at UNO
The October series will include premieres at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse located
at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St., on Oct. 1, 8 and 15, as well as community
performances at libraries and other local venues.
Beginning in October, NOJI will launch its 8th Annual NOJI Masters' Series with the
help of the University. Each semester, NOJI commissions UNO Jazz Studies professors
to create new Jazz music based on certain themes, said Mayne.
Steve Masakowski, the University's Coca-Cola Endowed Chair and director of the University's
Jazz Studies program, together with NOJO members Victor Atkins, graduate coordinator
of the Department of Music and Danny Barker Endowed Professor, and Edward Petersen,
associate chair of the Department of Music and coordinator of Jazz Studies, create
This fall, commissions will be based on poetry. Each professor will be paired with
a poet and will create music based on that poet's works.
Masakowski is an internationally renowned jazz guitarist who has performed with most
of the city's greatest musicians including Alvin "Red" Tyler, Ellis Marsalis, Danny
Barker, Earl Turbinton and James Black. He has also performed with Grammy Award-winning
artists Bobby McFerrin, Nicholas Payton, Allen Toussaint, Dianne Reeves and others
at major festivals around the world, according to his bio. As a recording artist,
Masakowski has released numerous CDs, including two on the prestigious Blue Note Records
label. He has been an active member of, and composer for the award winning New Orleans
jazz group, Astral Project.
He has twice been voted "Best Guitarist," and won "Best Contemporary Jazz Group" three
times by Gambit Weekly and Offbeat magazine in their annual reader's polls.
Atkins, who is known as "Red," is a jazz pianist with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
and sought-after arranger. Atkins' style of piano has been described as "infectious,
unconventional, tasteful, and powerful," said Missy Bowen, Music Department spokeswoman.
He has toured and performed with an impressive list of artists including Elvin Jones,
Freddie Hubbard, Aaron Neville, Nnenna Freelon, Brian Blade, Lalah Hathaway, and Nicholas
Payton. One of his most recent projects was collaborating and performing with Delfeayo
Marsalis on his re-working of Duke Ellington's "Such Sweet Thunder," a tribute to
William Shakespeare. Atkins is also well-known for his work with the Grammy-winning,
New Orleans-based Los Hombres Calientes, which produced an innovative brand of Latin
"His adaptations of works by Bach and other classical composers are brilliant examples
of the fluidity of jazz and the breaking down of musical barriers," reads a bio on
the University on the website."
Petersen, whose nickname on set is "Sweetbread," is a jazz saxophonist and multiple
Grammy nominee. His recent 2011 release, "The Mission," is gaining critical acclaim
and includes members of his band, The Test.
The UNO professors will compose and perform music based on the poetry of United States
Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, State of Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon
and The Poetry Foundation's Children's Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt.