Friday night The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) housed a historic battle of “Big Bands” properly titled; “The Kremlin Meets The Crescent City”. Performing in NOCCA’s Freda Lupin Memorial Hall, the participating bands included Grammy Award-winning producer, trombonist and composer Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra versus the internationally renowned Igor Butman Jazz Orchestra from Moscow, Russia.
Both bands were amazing as they equally took their performances to new levels from one song to the next. A variety of classic jazz hits along with a few original numbers consumed the bulk of Friday’s performance. There were a number of breathtaking solos during the show which ended in true New Orleans fashion with a good ol’ Mardi Gras Second Line and a standing ovation from the crowd. Amongst the band’s solos were performances by a few major players in the industry including legendary pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. and the “boy wonder pianist” and vocalist Davell Crawford (former mentee of E. Marsalis).
Not to be outdone, Butman and his crew came with a few talented tricks up their sleeves including the physically and vocally beautiful Fantine Pritoula anAustralian multilingual singer and songwriter who frequently tours with the band.
While New Orleans is famous for its impeccable Jazz music, The Igor Butman Jazz Orchestra was quite the competitor. At first glance, they upheld an almost military persona which fell by the waste side once they began to perform. There’s no mistake in the bands talent. Their leader Igor Butman is a first class-- world famous saxophonemusician who has been named “Russia’s #1 Jazz personality”. His delightful and energized stage presents and personality only exemplifies his devotion to jazz music. Like Delfeayo Marsalis, Butman also studied and trained at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He has graced the stage with many great musicians including Jazz Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis along with, Natalie Cole and Gary Burton. Despite being a very accomplished musician, Butman is a humble man that shows admiration for the musicians around him and their work.
Marsalis and his band, the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, began their journey together in 2008. Since, they have been regular performers at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival and are frequently seen on stage amongst a pack house in Snug Harbor. Marsalis is not only a member of one of the most famous Jazz families, he has also made a name for himself as a musician and producer, world traveler and is known for being a witty comedian during his performances.
On stage, Butman and Marsalis bounced their musical talents off of one another with friendly banter that propelled the competition. Being that NOCCA has birthed many great Jazz musicians, it was only appropriate to house such a grand show at their facility. All in all, Friday night’s show was a spectacular example of bringing the birth place of Jazz together with an unlikely guest of talented musicians for Moscow, Russia.