Our History

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.”

Our Mission


The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra creates Jazz to enhance life, transform place, and elevate spirit.

As a performing arts organization, our goal is to strengthen the business of Jazz through performances, tours, recordings, education and media platforms. NOJO is the first and only performing arts institution committed solely to the development of an Industry for Jazz in the city that created it.

Critics say about NOJO

“…above all, these guys are about playing New Orleans Jazz with blistering Creole fire, a kind of unrestrained fun and virtuosity…”


“…a free-playing jam, it’s like a savory dish of musical gumbo…swinging sound of horns, piano, bass and drums, along with the cool-cat musicality…”


“…the orchestra is the only major performing Jazz institution in post-Katrina New Orleans and has become the most prominent representative of Jazz culture in the Big Easy…”



Clare Harmon


Sarah Bell


John Diaz-Cortes


Turron Patterson


Board of Directors

Corey Hebert, M.D.
Daniel Packer, Vice Chair
Danny Conwill
Daryl Byrd
David Schulingkamp
Hugh Weber
Jeffrey Goldring
Mary Matalin
Nolan Rollins
Ron Forman
Stephen Perry
Vera Triplett, Ph.D., Treasurer
Warner Williams
William Hines
Yulia Houghtaling
Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr., Honorary Member
Dee Dee Bridgewater, Honorary Chairperson
Herman Leonard (1923-2010), Honorary Member
Wynton Marsalis, Emeritus Member