The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) kept the beat going strong with its annual “Big Beat” concert and gala on April 17 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Since 2002, when Grammy Award-winning musician Irvin Mayfield Jr. founded the orchestra, NOJO has been committed to the preservation and cultivation of jazz music in the city of its birth.

On April 16, the previous evening, NOJO held an exclusive patron preview party at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. The next day, guests returned for a larger-than-life night at the Royal Sonesta.

Celebrity journalist Soledad O’Brien, along with David Schulingkamp, graciously hosted the gala, which honored the “masters of the New Orleans piano tradition.” This meant a special presentation by NOJO honoring the renowned pianists Dr. Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, whose funky hits have dominated the music scene for decades. Another living legend, Ellis Marsalis, was on-hand throughout the night as a special guest. And of course, the evening would not have been complete without honoring Fats Domino. Davell Crawford, whose smooth and powerful vocals have captivated audiences for years, sang a special tribute to Domino.

Following the cocktail hour, Irvin Mayfield Jr. and NOJO treated guests to a spectacular seated concert.


What:   “The Big Beat,” benefitting the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
When:  Thursday, April 17
Where:  The Royal Sonesta Hotel