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Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra kicks off International Festival
posted Jan 25, 2009 - 12:20:39pm
Fresh from his Inauguration Day performance at the White House in honor of President Barack Obama, nine-time Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis led his 15-member orchestra in an impeccable display of artistry.
Ever the educator, Marsalis talked about the masters during the Friday-evening concert, including a story about legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk.
Many of Monk's down-and-out contemporaries, Marsalis said, would ask Monk to lend them $10 or $20. He would open his wallet and ask if they could break a $1,000 bill!
The ensemble opened the show with two Monk compositions. Then they played a couple of tunes from the TV show Sesame Street, including "It Ain't Easy Being Green," which featured trombone player Vicent Gardner's mellow vocal. A very inventive arrangement of the 1970 hit "Rubber Duckie" followed.
"We're gonna stay in the animal kingdom," Marsalis said.
And they did, with a Ted Nash arrangement of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." Nash is one of the five sax players in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), which makes its home in New York City's Rose Theater on Columbus Circle.
The second half of the concert highlighted some of the orchestra's hard-swinging repertoire, including a couple of Benny Carter arrangements: "All of Me" and "Again and Again."
The show ended too soon. Marsalis and his band mates left the audience wanting more as the house lights came on.
The remarkable thing about the JLCO is the way each player in the orchestra has his own distinctive voice. When a soloist is featured, the sounds are as expressive as that of a singer. Yet, with such an array of individual style, the band plays as an ensemble with one voice. Every articulation and every inflection in each note is together.
The JLCO concert kicked off the 2009 season of the Daytona Beach International Festival, which features the London Symphony Orchestra.
Check the International Festival's Web site, www.fif-lso.org, for a schedule of performances and other information. Look in The Beacon print edition and here at Beacon Online for more news about festival events over the coming months.
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