Jamelle Yahya Adisa
Beautiful Gift from the Creator
One who is Clear/One who will teach us
There have always been quite a few up and coming young talented musicians from New Orleans. But in my opinion, Jamelle Adisa stands out amongst the pack as one of the most exceptional young jazz trumpeters to grace the Crescent City. He is versatile, swings his butt off, plays with elegance, fire and soulfulness! He is amongst my favorite young jazzmen from New Orleans.
Trumpeter, Harry Connick Jr. Band
From Buddy Bolden, King Oliver and Louis Armstrong through Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard, New Orleans has been the home and training ground for many brilliant trumpeters through the years. Jamelle Adisa was actually born in Bastrop, Louisiana,which is five hours north near the Arkansas state line, but his jazz career began in New Orleans and he has been an important part of its scene ever since.
Jamelle remembers hearing gospel music early in life.His grandfather was a Baptist minister and he had an aunt who played piano. Although the piano lessons he received when he was five did not take, things were different when he started playing trumpet at age 12.“I almost started on clarinet since another one of my aunts was in the band in college, but her horn was either misplaced or not in good shape. The band director gave me a trumpet instead and, once I got into it, I loved playing it. I got especially excited about the horn after hearing a recording of Miles Davis. At that point I knew that I wanted to play the trumpet, no matter what.”
Shortly after moving to New Orleans, when he was 16,Jamelle began playing in local bands. “I didn’t really have any formal playing in jazz until I moved to New Orleans. I studied with Clyde Kerr, Jr. in high school. Almost every young trumpet player in New Orleans has studied with him. I also studied with Ronald Benko, who played trumpet with the Louisiana Philharmonic.” Adisa attended the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) during 1997-98,earned a degree in music education from Loyola University and his Masters at the University of New Orleans. He has taught extensively in a variety of different projects, from elementary school children to college students including in the New Orleans public school
system, at the New Orleans String Project and at Delgado Community College. “The most important thing that I tell my students is that, if this is something that you really want to do, you must always try to be your very best, take it seriously. It’s a gift.”
A working musician ever since he moved to New Orleans,Adisa has played with such groups and artists such as Bob French’s Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove, The Al Belletto Big Band, The John Mahoney Big Band, The Regal Brass Band, The Stooges Brass Band, The Treme Brass Band,Tricia Boutte, Have Soul Will Travel, Stanton Moore,Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, NY To NO Collective,Deacon John, Betty Shirley, The Royal Players Brass Band, The Funky Seven Brass Band, The High Steppers Brass Band, The Storyville Stumpers, The Subdudes, TheYoung Tuxedo Brass Band and The Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band. Starting with traditional New Orleans brass bands, Adisa has played funk, modern jazz and in a variety of other styles, adding color,
personality and high musicianship to every setting.
When Hurricane Katrina was on its way, Jamelle evacuated before the storm and spent time
in San Francisco and Baton Rouge before returning to a devastated New Orleans. “The music scene in New Orleans is making a comeback although I don’t know if it’ll ever be the same. A lot of musicians left and have yet to come back as have some of the people who supported the music.” Jamelle has done what he canto help revitalize the scene, including leading two very different jazz groups. “The New Orleans Slick 6 is a traditional jazz band that I started a few years ago, featuring young guys playing the traditional New Orleans repertoire including Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, W.C.Handy and others. To really understand that music, one has to play the music in a band regularly. It has been a lot of fun. My other group, Sky Child, draws from funk and fusion such the Headhunters,the late 60s Miles Davis bands, and the Meters. The group can be thought of as an extension of having played with Big Sam’s Funky Nation except that the music is geared much more towards jazz/rock/funk fusion than just funk.”
In addition, Jamelle frequently tours with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra,coordinates the Louis Armstrong Quintet at the University of New Orleans and teaches regularly. He considers his main influences to be Freddie Hubbard,Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis and Louis
Armstrong although he is constantly on the path of developing an original voice. “My main goal right now is to get my own material out on record. I have a number of recording dates coming up including with Sky Child, and I’m happy that Slick Six
is working a lot.”
“When I was 12, I may have believed that I chose music, but now I know it chose me. Music has a certain power that I try to unlock every day when I play. It can really change people’s lives, such as the first time I experienced John Coltrane’s music. I want
to get closer to that feeling every day.”
-Scott Yanow, 2007