A Rising Jazz Legend Riffs on New Orleans' Culture, Music and Food
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of talented musicians in New Orleans, but few have stood out in the last decade as notably as Irvin Mayfield. The 37-year-old native is one of the most accomplished jazz trumpet players in the world with a Grammy and a Billboard Album of the Year to his credit.
But fame and worldwide travel haven't changed his perspective on his hometown one bit. He speaks so highly of the city and its culture that he was named by the U.S. Government the Cultural Ambassador of New Orleans. His voice sparks up whenever a question gives him the chance to sing New Orleans' praises.
How New Orleans Got Its Music
You have to recognize, it's a port city. Most of the valuable treasures, culturally, come from port cities. It's the entry and exit point for all things. It's not the music, the food, the architecture; it's the people- the French, the Spanish, the Haitians, the Germans, the Italians. We have a cornucopia, I like to call it an embarrassment, of [cultural] riches.
Being the City's Cultural Ambassador
All of the musicians and artists of Louisiana are ambassadors. At the end of the day, their art speaks volumes and tells people why this is a great place.
Why Someone Should Visit
New Orleans is one of the quintessential American experiences. If you are an American and you haven't gone to New Orleans, you have missed out on one of the great cities. "When are we going to New Orleans?" should be the proper question.
Where to Go for Live Music
First, I would go down to Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse. We employ more musicians than any other venue in the city. We've got so much there; that's where I would start.
There's this guy, Wynton Marsalis...he built this $200 million music empire
Branford Marsalis...he was the leader of the Tonight Show Band. They also have a brother, Jason Marsalis, who's a talented musician and producer. Guess the person who taught them? Ellis Marsalis. He plays every Friday at 8 o'clock at Snug Harbor.
Why It's So Easy to Find Live Music Every Night of the Week
It's what we do; it's a part of our life. When we bury people, we celebrate with music. When people are born, we celebrate with music.... Music is a tool that we use. We use it to rebuild. We use it to teach history.
A Perfect New Orleans Day
It'd be a day like today. No clouds in the sky, a beautiful day, 78 degrees. Give me a freshly rolled cigar, an Armagnac kind of drink, a steak and some good music, and I'm good - and, of course, some beignets.
The only thing left to say is "welcome to New Orleans." We're ready for you.