Artistic Director Irvin Mayfield founded NOJO in 2002 as a powerful vehicle for celebrating and advancing the cultural and historical legacy of New Orleans Jazz. The concept came to Mayfield after he created the Institute of Jazz Culture at Dillard University as the youngest member of the faculty. As he looked around the City for a partner in the Jazz Industry, he found that there was no institution committed solely to the business of Jazz or performing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the city that created it.
This led Mayfield to create the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, designed to celebrate and fortify the American Jazz portfolio while providing infrastructure for developing the New Orleans Jazz Industry. Mayfield assembled a 16-piece band and enlisted NOJO President & CEO Ronald Markham. NOJO had its first performance in early 2003 at Tipitina’s.
NOJO made history on November 17, 2005 when they symbolically reopened New Orleans with the performance of a piece composed by Mayfield, All the Saints, at Christ Church Cathedral. This commission served New Orleans as the first major cultural event inside the city post-Katrina.
NOJO has headlined all of America’s major performing arts venues and clubs and produced the first local, ticketed Jazz Concert Series in the history of New Orleans. NOJO’s album, BOOK ONE on World Village, a subsidiary of the Harmonia Mundi label, won the 2010 Grammy Award for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble.”