Celebrated New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield experienced the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina up close his city washed away before his eyes, and his father, Irvin Mayfield Sr., died in the aftermath of the storm. It's a macabre story, but the upside is that the gifted horn player now leads a promising young jazz troupe that, in part, is providing new artistic direction to the Gulf Coast. Mayfield almost single-handedly started the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, a nonprofit organization geared toward jazz education, to help create a new generation of musical talent in his hometown. That's a noble cause, and the benefits of this decision are paying off in interesting ways. The 11-person ensemble, which tours frequently, benefits from a strong work ethic and abundant in-house talent, but it is still looking for its own unique sound. Mayfield, however, consistently shows progress and versatility throughout his career, and he's already leading this group toward greener, fresher endeavors. The people of New Orleans wouldn't want it any other way
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Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 7, at the Gubelmann Auditorium, 2 Four Arts Plz., Palm Beach. Tickets cost $35 to $40. Call 561-655-7226, or visit www.fourarts.org.