I do listen to jazz mainly because I grew up with parents who criticized pop music as "the devil’s music" and therefore besides gospel, only jazz was permitted to play in our house for many years. As an adult I still appreciate jazz but I couldn’t really tell you the difference between John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. I just know what I like.
Listening to the melodic sounds of JLCO with Wynton Marsalis, I definitely liked a great deal. My appreciation for this genre of music has increased tenfold. The show is narrated and directed by Marsalis while he also participates as a trumpet-playing member of the band. One of the first selections is "Bye, Bye Black Sheep," is infused with humorous sounds that mimic the wooly farm animals. The rocking solo performance by trumpet player Kenny Rampton was a crowd pleaser.
"Ahmad," a Duke Ellington composition, is laced with the sounds of a Middle Eastern call to prayer. It is influenced by Ellington’s trip to the Far and Middle East travels in the 1960s. The exotic groove of the cymbals, bass and trombone is fantastic!
Thanks to the baritone voice of trombone player/composer/singer Chris Crenshaw, Count Basie’s "I Left My Baby Standing on The Back Porch Crying" may have been my favorite selection of the night. Crenshaw’s voice is simply unforgettable. Crenshaw, who appears to be one of the youngest members of the band, also delights us later in the show with a lovely composition of his own called "God’s Trombones."
This concert is very unique because although we get plenty of Marsalis’ personality, we don’t get much of his music. The amazing solos and music written by band members come from everyone but him. It is a great opportunity to hear the best of what may be tomorrow’s jazz superstars.
Carlos Henriques, the bass player, delights the audiences with Latin-flavored compositions, "Shade of Jade" and "2.3s," which is an "I Dream Of Genie"-type of funky tune. Inspired by their trip to Cuba, it is a fun, sexy song that has a beautiful whisper of a trumpet solo.
Another song composed by a band member is reed-player Sherman Irby’s "Insatiable Hunger," which has a wicked flow. It is very contemporary and reminds me of the likes of my favorite contemporary jazz/R&B musician Jose James.
My only complaint, as we headed towards the exit doors when the show was over, was the lack of Marsalis solos. Marsalis must have read my mind because just as we reached the doors, he and a few key band members returned to the stage for a stunning solo that served as the delicious cherry on top. He proved, in just five short minutes, why his name is on the marquee.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performed on June 15 at the Kimmel Center, 300 S Broad St. in Philadelphia. For information or tickets for upcoming shows, call 215-670-2300 or visit www.kimmelcenter.org
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