Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wynton Marsalis And The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra: Jazzmen Exceptional

Take one part Billy Strayhorn, add one part Duke Ellington, one part Stan Kenton, one part Maynard Ferguson, and one part Arturo Sandoval and what do you get?  "The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra", that's what!  Friday night November 12,  I had the listening pleasure of hearing and seeing Wynton Marsalis and the "Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra" at NJPAC.  This group is comprised
of 15 of the best soloists I have ever heard in one place at any time in my musical life.  With most jazz orchestras of this size, maybe you get to see four or five of the members playing a solo, but not in this orchestra.  Every one of the 15 had their shot at a solo before the one hour and forty-five minute show was over.  The orchestra consisted of five saxes, four trumpets, three Trombones, one bass, drummer and piano player.  The highlight of the evening for me was when the orchestra played the Duke Ellington's arrangement of "The Peanut Vendor".  This song brought me back to the late 50's, a time when I listened to this song over and over again played by the great Stan Kenton band with Maynard Ferguson on trumpet.  Here it is 50 years later and the song, the arrangement and the orchestra never sounded better.  Wynton Marsalis is clearly a musical genius by any measure and one of the good guys of jazz.  His resume is just unbelievable. He began his classical training at the age of 12 and attended the Julliard School at age 17. He made his recording debut in 1982 and has since recorded more than 70 Jazz and Classical albums.  He has won nine Grammy Awards and in 1983 became the first artist to win both a Classical and Jazz Grammy in the same year and he repeated this feat in 1984.  It's clear he is a classic jazz gentleman. He still loves to play and play he did,  preferring to sit with the trumpet section and be one with the band. All and all, a totally enjoyable evening!

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