Beams and whimsical collages of light illuminated the New Orleans' Jazz Museum last night, Saturday, December 4, at the 4th Annual Improvisations Gala fundraiser, "Encouraging education and improvisation for a new generation of musicians."
Trumpet Mafia, Original Wild Tchoupitoulas Indians featuring Big Queen Mary K. Stevenson, George Porter, Jr. & Runnin Pardners, Charmaine Neville Band, Bo Dollis, Jr. & The Wild Magnolias, Corey Henry & The Treme Funktet, Gabrielle Cavassa Band, Jelani Bauman Band with Jesse McBride, Herlin Riley, and Gregg Stafford conquered the stages, while the N'Awlins D'awlins Baby Dolls and NOLA Chorus Girls weaved in and out of the audience.
The joy was overwhelming. There was almost too much to take it all in. If your speed was dancing like mad in the outdoor tent, pensively exploring the Old Mint equipment on the main floor, appreciating intimate jazz performances in the third floor concert space, visiting any of the many bars, nibbling on BBQ shrimp and grits, blackened chicken pasta, mixed vegetables, bread pudding with rum sauce, shrimp succotash or tasso, lasagna, brownies and petit fours, sitting in the courtyard, taking in the Sound Collage installation, exploring the gallery exhibits in the main museum, or bidding in the auction, there was something for everyone.
Just when you thought you'd had enough, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and master guitarist, Mahmoud Chouki, mixed the most incredible Moroccan rhythms into a flurry of interweaving solos with Oscar Rossignoli, Martin Masakowski, Simon Mouchabeck, Pedro Segundo, Khris Royal, Branden Lewis, and special guest Detroit Brooks. By the time they ended their set with a new spin on an old standard, the audience was worked up into a dancing fury.
It was impossible to leave the New Orleans' Jazz Museum's multidimensional celebration of local arts without a skip in your step.