The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic played the MAC on Saturday, taking over the Belushi Performance Hall with “Mardi Gras Carnival: A Salute to New Orleans.” Orbert Davis directed the show, which according to him was, “a celebration of the culture and the freedom of musical interpretation that happened [in New Orleans].”
The performance started of with “Potato Head Blues” by Louis Armstrong, before exploring a series of pieces that all contribute to the musical identity of the The Big Easy. Included is an original by Davis called “The Survival of the Saints,” paying homage to survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
“This will be our second time performing it,” Davis told the Chicago Sun Times. “I wanted this piece to reflect a movie. The scene is before Katrina hit, during the hurricane and then after the hurricane. I used certain elements that draw the emotion and the chaos of living through the storm. And immediately after the storm, there’s about 30 seconds of very uncomfortable silence. That represents after the storm hit. Not only was New Orleans stunned, but the whole country was stunned as we looked and saw the images, and they waited and waited for help to arrive. New Orleans was crippled in a sense and there was literally no movement going on.”
Davis, who also played trumpet throughout the performance, is co-founder and artistic director of the philharmonic. He also co-founded Jazz Alive, a program that teaches skills through music to Chicago Public School students.
Davis was joined on stage by Grammy-winning musician Howard Levy, as well Reginald Robinson, recipient of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Award, also known as the ‘genius grant.’