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Wynton Marsalis at 50 Birthday Celebration 10/12/11


October  12, 2011               Photos By: Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center
If you are reading this review on or before Thursday October 13, 2011, please note that this concert is being telecast live Thursday night at 8pm on PBS as part of the series "Live from Lincoln Center." It will also be available on PBS.org for one week after the initial live broadcast. 


 Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents...

Wynton Marsalis at 50



Review  By: Michelle King


Who better to introduce Wynton Marsalis than another eloquent speaker and champion of education, Mr. Bill Cosby? After many humorous remarks by Mr. Cosby, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALCO) walks onto the stage Wynton Marsalis helped create and the celebration begins in earnest. From the hand clapping of the musicians before a single instrument is heard, to the instrumental precision of vocals by Gregory Porter, we are immediately transported into a selection from Blood on the Fields. This composition, as almost all of what we hear tonight is by Wynton Marsalis. Alternating between playing and conducting, Marsalis leads us through a combination of themes and stories that resonates to our very core. The elements of human nature in "Back to Basics," with the sound and pacing of Wynton's master trumpet and the glorious call to praise the Lord in "Doxology" starring the vocals of Chorale Le Chateau as conducted by Damien Sneed are examples, although every selection performed tonight hits the high notes in such a sublime way.


Through the brilliance of Jared Grimes, the beauty of the dance and sound of tap speak with and about the message the music plays, it is breathtaking to watch and hear. Yacub Addy & Odadaa! bring their unique rhy
thm and passion to the JALC stage, mingled with a joyful enthusiasm that spreads throughout the audience. We are also treated to a violinist that Wynton has known and highly admired through the years, Mark O'Connor, who fiddles literally to perfection in bluegrass and jazz. From time to time, JALCO pianist Dan Nimmer is replaced by the incredible talent of Marcus Roberts, who we learn has been an vital mentor for Marsalis through the years.


These friends and special guests for the evening add a wonderful aspect to the music, but at heart, it is all about Wynton Marsalis and JALCO, who are the best of the best in today's jazz world. Wynton may be the leader, but he is a JALCO team player at heart, and this shows in their play, which is seamless and tight. Such musicianship is truly unmatched in the care they all take with every note, and the respect between them is evident with the attention given to every member for their solos.


Tonight Wynton shared many of his enormous gifts with us (even singing) even though it was his birthday celebration! Thank you Wynton Marsalis for creating this memorable experience for all of us, and here's to another 50 years of you doing what you love best!












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