“What other jazz band does this?” »: Adonis Rose comes to Ottawa to defend New Orleans music


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The rhythms of New Orleans flow through the veins of drummer Adonis Rose.


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The sashaying grooves of the birthplace of jazz are in Rose’s blood, as surely as they were passed down from her father, drummer Vernon Severin, who in turn had a drummer, Wilfred Severin, as a father.

Rose, who is in her mid-forties, took on a prominent role as a music leader in her hometown a few years ago. After playing in the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra for 15 years, Rose became in 2017 the artistic director of the big band of 18 musicians. He will be at the helm (and behind his drums) when NOJO plays Tuesday at the Shenkman Arts Center in Orleans, presenting a concert focused on the music of the great New Orleans composer Allen Toussaint.

Below, Rose discusses NOJO’s cultural mission and what makes it unique.

Q: When and why did you start playing with NOJO?


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A: I started playing with NOJO in 2002 when the organization was formed. It was important for me to be a member of NOJO because of what it means. NOJO is a non-profit organization that preserves, educates and exposes the world to the music and culture of New Orleans through an 18-piece jazz orchestra. When I was a kid I grew up in the city, it was rare to see a big band play, and we definitely didn’t have an institute dedicated to preserving big band culture.

Q: What kind of satisfaction do you get from playing with a big band, compared to playing in a small group?

A: Playing in a big band is very different from playing in a small group. Roles are more defined. Navigating a piece of music with 18 musicians requires a different level of concentration and skill. As a drummer in a big band, you need to be fundamentally healthy to lead and musically lead the band. If you struggle, are unable to set up rhythmic figures, or are unable to influence music dynamically, you will be exposed. In a smaller setup, batsmen can often hide their shortcomings by overplaying.


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Q: Now that you are the artistic director of NOJO, what does this mean for you and the band?

A: This job taught me to be a good administrator, leader and musician. I now have to work with a staff and board, create budgets, organize concert seasons, develop educational programming, create budgets, develop recording concepts, work with reservation agents and managers, rehearse and rotate the group and whatever is necessary for us to be successful. as an organization.

For the band, this obviously meant a change in leadership style, musical content and an overall different approach. I have always been a team player and I look to the musicians in the orchestra for advice and appreciate their contribution musically.

Q: What sets NOJO apart from other big, well-known American groups?


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A: I guess we can ask ourselves what makes New Orleans different from any other city in the United States?

NOJO is made up of 18 musicians who live and work in New Orleans and contribute to the local music scene and the advancement of our culture in the United States and around the world. We focus on preserving the music of New Orleans artists and embody what New Orleans is every time we take the stage. What other jazz band does this?

Q: What music will you be playing in Ottawa, and why?

A: I look forward to our show in Ottawa. We will perform the music from our new CD Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint. Allen Toussaint fans will hear some of his greatest hits, Working in the Coal Mine, Southern Nights, Ruler of My Heart, It’s Raining and more.


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Q: I’m interested in New Orleans’ take on jazz as it is played outside of where it was born. What do you think of the contemporary jazz trends coming out of New York, or Brooklyn, or elsewhere, in Europe?

A: I think music has changed over the years and I think evolution is inevitable. I believe that learning the fundamentals and history of music is imperative to understanding how to play it. But that shouldn’t hinder advancement.

We have many leaders who make a great contribution to jazz around the world through performances, leading cultural institutions and jazz artists from all over the world.

This responsibility lies with all those who are committed to providing the public with the opportunity to hear and appreciate music and the artists who create it.

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
When: Tuesday February 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Shenkman Arts Center, 245 boul. Centrum, Orleans
Tickets: $ 58 (bonus $ 65, student $ 20) at shenkmanarts.ca



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Henry R. Wright