The visit, part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's efforts to help New Orleans recover after Hurricane Katrina, will include master classes, clinics, workshops, and performances. On April 23, the LCJO and Ghana's Odadaa! will present the world premiere of Congo Square, a new work by Marsalis and Yacub Addy, the leader of Odadaa!
The 80-minute cross-cultural work was inspired by the public square in New Orleans where Africans gathered to play the music of their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to Jazz at Lincoln Center, the site was the only place in the United States where the regular performance of African music was permitted during the slavery era.
After its premiere in Louis Armstrong Park, Congo Square will be heard on tour in Florida, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. It will get its New York City debut on May 4 at JALC's Rose Hall as part of a series focusing on New Orleans jazz.
Marsalis, a native of New Orleans, helped organize a benefit for New Orleans at JALC last September. He is currently a chair of Louisiana's National Advisory Board of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism and a member of the Bring Back New Orleans Commission.