Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Atkins Named NOJO Musician of the Year

University of New Orleans Professor Victor "Red" Atkins was honored last week at the Third Annual New Orleans Jazz Orchestra's (NOJO) Big Beat Gala, where he received NOJO's prestigious Musician of the Year Award.

UNO President Peter J. Fos, who has championed the University's acclaimed jazz studies program, received NOJO's Excellence in Education Award. Also at the event, UNO jazz program patriarch and Professor Emeritus Ellis Marsalis Jr. was awarded the NOJO Congo Square Lifetime Achievement Award. The world-renowned pianist and founder of the University's acclaimed Jazz at the Sandbar series, performed two pieces arranged by Atkins that had been commissioned by the New Orleans Jazz Institute, a partnership between NOJO and UNO that links UNO's strengths in Jazz education with NOJO's professional and performance expertise.

Other entertainment at the gala included a tribute to Fats Domino performed by Davell Crawford and a presentation honoring jazz legends Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. The gala was hosted by NOJO Board of Directors members CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien and actor Bryan Batt.

Atkins, who holds the University's esteemed Danny Barker Professorship in Jazz Studies, has toured and recorded with popular artists from Aaron Neville of the Neville Brothers to Elvin Jones of the classic John Coltrane Quartet, and in 2010 won a Grammy with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra for whom he is principal staff arranger on "Great Jazz," a Kultura-TV jazz competition television series in Russia. Atkins' compositions and arrangements have been featured on recordings by Wynton Marsalis, the Headhunters, Los Hombres Calientes, and Aaron Neville. He has been commissioned by the New Orleans Jazz Institute and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to compose music for a variety of concert events.

Atkins, who joined the University as an adjunct instructor in 1994 and became an assistant professor in 2006, then associate professor in 2012, served as graduate Coordinator for the Department of Music from 2008 through 2012 and now holds the Danny Barker Professorship of Jazz Studies at UNO. He teaches jazz harmony, theory, composition, keyboard, combo, and applied piano and can often be seen performing at the University's acclaimed Jazz at the Sandbar series, leading the UNO Jazz All-Stars, a jazz ensemble comprised of UNO students, faculty and alumni.


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