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The 2013 “Big Beat Gala” Honors “The Masters of the Reed”

Irvin Mayfield, Elizabeth Boh and Stephen Perry

Photographed by Melissa Calico

This April the New Orleans Jazz Institute hosted its 2013 “Big Beat Gala,” a fundraiser and awards ceremony that honors local jazz leaders and their outstanding contributions to New Orleans’ musical heritage. The institute is a partnership between the University of New Orleans’ jazz education programs and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO).

John Fraiche and Kevin Poorman served as co-chairs for this spectacular celebration, which honored “The Masters of the Reed,” more than a dozen legendary saxophone and clarinet players who received the Congo Square Award at the gala. Additionally, the institute also honored several community members who have played a vital role in the preservation and development of New Orleans jazz during the evening.

The evening’s entertainment featured the best of the best in jazz that kept the audience’s feet moving and spirits soaring. The all-star lineup included Irvin Mayfield, the founding artistic director of NOJO, and the 18-piece NOJO Big Band. The institute’s own Saturday Morning Music School Big Band also kicked off the evening with their show-stopping rhythms.

Guests relished in the evening’s award-winning entertainment as well as the event’s five-star cuisine. The decadent menu included: mixed greens with goat cheese and poached pears; a “Napoleon” of fresh Gulf flounder layered with a delightful shrimp mousse; and chocolate ganache with banana cake Caribe and strawberry salad.

The institute also organized a silent auction for guests. Lots included a James Taylor-signed guitar, Saks Fifth Avenue gift basket and card and two tickets to Jazz Fest with backstage passes. F

Event at a Glance

What: “The Big Beat Gala,” benefiting the New Orleans Jazz Institute
When: Thursday, April 18
Where: Royal Sonesta Hotel

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