Hall is packed tonight and available tickets were in a very short
supply for this group of extraordinary young players. This is the first
time that I have seen the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra perform and I
am quite interested to get a taste of the buzz. Leading the band from
the rear, in the trumpet section of course, was none other than the
world famous, youthful, iconoclastic figure for jazz, education and the
torch bearer for tradition, Mr. Wynton Marsalis. This is an orchestra
with youth on its side. They are a number of young technicians that
clearly are immersed in the sound, style and classical tradition of big
Benny Carter, an adored composer of Wynton’s and
someone who has conducted the band himself on a few occasions, is
remembered with a couple of his compositions performed by the
orchestra. Mary Lou Williams is another one of those composers not to
be forgotten. She wrote many compositions for Duke Ellington and many
others, sometimes even composing music on a paper napkin. The LCJO
performs Mary’s, “Big Jim’s Blues” which was written for Harry “Big
Jim” Lawson, a trumpet player in the big bands back in the 30’s and
This was one of Mary’s soulful blues tunes indeed.
Wynton showcases his attachment to the soul and roots of the blues as
he squeals hollers and slings the sound of his horn like a brotha
coming out of a bar after his woman done left him fo anotha man. Now
dats da blues! He captured all of the sensibilities and emotion that I
am sure that Mary expressed in her original composition.
Ron Westray’s trombone sang in the New Orleans
style swingin’ blues tone with the plunger as his faithful companion.
Each of these players in the LCJO seems to really love a blues. They
are all sporting big smiles and having big fun as their partners in
crime finish a solo.
Holding true to the tradition of the suit and tie,
the LCJO looks good as Wynton expounds upon the history of each
composer with grace and humor. Usually, young players come into a band
to establish a name for themselves and then breakout on their own.
However, many of these players already have a number of albums to their
name so being a member of the LCJO is strictly for the love of the
Another Mary Lou Williams composition, “The Foggy
Bottom” swung with Aaron Gold berg on piano, Carlos Enriquez on bass
and Victor Goines on Tenor each telling stories and having
conversations on their instruments. Intelligent humor, good form and
classic jazz music performed to perfection is how the LCJO does their
thing. Herlin Riley sings the blues while maintaining a rhythmic beat
on drums as the LCJO repeats his phrases in unison. The idea is to put
you in touch and make you once again appreciate the fine quality of
classic traditional nostalgia and it works!
The LCJO was formed by the remaining members of
the Duke Ellington Orchestra along with the Wynton Marsalis Septet. The
old school coming together and passing on the art to the new school to
preserve the tradition of the art of the classic jazz orchestra. In
honor of the great Duke, the LCJO performed, “Black, Brown and Beige”
in a three part suite.
Most of the members of the orchestra were raised
in musical families. Alto player Ted Nash brought his father Dick Nash
on stage to do an alto and trombone arrangement of “All the Things You
Are” with the orchestra.
The evening concluded with John Coltrane’s “A Love
Supreme” with all for movements; Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance
and Psalm. This was the definite highlight of the evening. The piece
was dedicated to Elvin Jones who had an opportunity to witness the LCJO
perform the classic composition. Those four notes on the bass always
elate the most dynamic emotion for what is to come. The suite was
arranged so that everyone in the band played those famous four notes in
succession. Carlos Henriquez got a chance to creatively express himself
with harmonics during the transition from Acknowledgement to
Resolution. Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Aaron Goldberg, Wynton Marsalis
and Herlin Riley really added that virtuosic ingenuity to Trane’s
masterpiece! Victor Goines was a master technician on soprano. I love
provocative self expression and any music by John Coltrane calls for
that. “A Love Supreme” once again makes my evening a complete success!