Jimmy Maxwell

Jimmy Maxwell at the Mardi Gras Ball

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If you think that purple, gold, and green are just three colors in the palette, you have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The three official Mardi Gras colors have been imbued with special significance by Rex, the king of carnival himself. Gold is for power, purple is for justice, and green is for faith. This and everything else about the Mardi Gras tradition has meaning, including the Mardi Gras balls. The Mardi Gras colors appear on the cover of this CD, in which veteran bandleader Jimmy Maxwell is recorded in a live performance at one such Mardi Gras ball. The sophisticated Maxwell and his renowned orchestra have played for presidents, kings, and queens, and they play for the royalty of the carnival season in New Orleans. The stylized production follows a certain protocol, as can be seen from the selections on the album, such as "The Procession of Nobles" and "Coronation March." Listening to this CD reproduces for the listener the pageantry of a New Orleans high-society ball. A carnival organization, called a krewe, has a name usually mythological in origin. The king and queen and their court are presented to the guests in attendance. They march in wearing ornate costumes and masks and take their places in a tableau of incredibly grand proportions, until the climatic moment when the coronation takes place. After their majesties are crowned, the real fun begins. Certain people receive call-outs to dance with members of the court. Familiar dance music -- like "Muskrat Ramble," "Bourbon Street Parade," and " When the Saints Go Marching In" -- is played. It is absolutely imperative that the Mardi Gras theme song, "If Ever I Cease to Love," is played numerous times. By the time this recording is over, you will not forget which one it is. This is a recording of both historical and musical value. It documents the grand bal masque tradition that lives on in New Orleans. And since Mardi Gras is about having that last good time before the penitence of Lent begins, this is some beautiful and joyous music to enjoy.

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