NOJO’s Elysian Fields Premiere


My world this week has been surrounded by this. Irvin’s kicking off his Carnegie Hall tour today by premiering this Jazz Suite w/ NOJO.  Originally it was one nine-movement piece, a commission funded by an Atlas grant ($45k). It looks like it’s taking shape as a 9+piece NOJO album w/ a New Orleans theme.  Tonight is the private premiere & reception, followed by the commencement in Jazz address at UNO’s spring commencement tomorrow, and the official full premiere at the foot of Elysian Fields at Washington Square Park on Saturday.  The French consulate has endorsed the piece also (part of it is noted as a “love letter to France” – a thank you for their help after Hurricane Katrina), and at some point on the route to Carnegie, NOJO will hop across the pond to perform the piece at Champs Elysées in Paris.

As of last night, Irvin said it was about 85% finished with the premiere less than 24 hrs away, but it’ll pull through. Like he said, they could have a terrible dress rehearsal and a rockin’ performance, or a fantastic dress rehearsal and a terrible performance. The all-star band sounds marvelous and their rehearsals have been a bit grueling but it will be worth it.  Yesterday I opened a door and nearly knocked over Herlin Riley, so as long as we don’t accidentally maim any musicians before 7:30pm tonight, all should go well.

Irvin wishes he had more time (part of his creative process is waiting until the sketches of the piece come to him – meanwhile he has a music copyist extracting Finale parts around the clock) to complete the Elysian piece, as he says it’s not quite doing what he expected yet. That could change tonight. One more rehearsal (starts in an hour), a 3-hr sound check, and we’re off. A year’s worth of planning – I’m expecting greatness: $45k worth at least!

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