Wynton Marsalis in Concert:
Lincoln Center Comes To The MPAC in New Jersey
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra - led by Wynton Marsalis: Managing and Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center - performed at the MPAC (Mayo Performing Arts Center) on June 14, 2013. This extra special event featured 15 top level musicians presenting the classics of jazz along with their own original arrangements.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Come to Morristown
Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Returned to Morristown in 2013.

The leader of the orchestra is Wynton Marsalis. Wynton is an author, band leader, composer, educator, philanthropist and trumpeter. Wynton - who was born in New Orleans in 1961 - took to music at a young age. In 1979, he was studying at Julliard and a year later he was learning and playing with Art Blakey (band leader & drummer). With that experience, Wynton went on to front his own band. He toured for 15 years and during that time Marsalis became an ambassador for jazz as his music reached both young and old jazz fans.

Wynton has many accolades and awards to his credit. Currently, he is the Managing and Artistic Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Therefore, SoundPress.net was thrilled when the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra came to historic Morristown, New Jersey.

A few minutes after eight, the well dressed orchestra quietly took their seats. Wynton welcomed the audience. They presented a sample of the different types of music that they play. The band started with "Swinghouse" by Gerry Mulligan (1927-1996). The stand-up bass with the drums set the swinging pace of the piece. The horns flowed in and out of the musical exchanges which also showcased solos.

As the band leader Marsalis handled the introductions between the songs but otherwise he was one of the team taking a turn at a solo but not dominating the show. Wynton talked about Duke Ellington (1899-1974) who was an innovator of jazz for over 50 years. The Lincoln Center Orchestra performed a number of compositions from Duke. The first was the sassy "Shout 'Em Aunt Tillie" dating back to the late 20's and early 30's. Some of the saxophonists played the clarinet during this peppy piece.

Marsalis also shared that Duke traveled the world and was known as the Beautiful American. Ellington would return home and incorporate the different cultures that he encountered into his compositions. "Amad" from Far East Suite (1966) had a Middle Eastern flair in the context of jazz for a totally cool combination of different worlds.

Continuing with the music of Elliington, Wynton jested that Duke's band may have only played the next song once because the trombone parts were too hard. LC's trombonists along with the rest of the band aptly handled the bold "Braggin' In Brass" with its fast paced patterns.

Marsalis mentioned that Gerry Mulligan also wrote beautiful wistful ballads and that led into "Lonesome Boulevard". It started with a poignant piano part that moved into a delicate dialogue between the bass, sax and drums before the rest of the band added layers to the blend. They closed the first set with another Duke song from the 70's that had a snappy structure.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Come to Morristown
Wynton Marsalis: Managing and Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center (top center) performs at the MPAC.

Returning for the second half of the concert Wynton said that they had ten arrangers in the orchestra. Trombonist Chris Crenshaw headed a complex piece that he had conceived with its varied progressions. Bassist Carlos Henriquez - who was also celebrating his birthday - fronted the band through the colorful "Shades of Jade".

"Thank you very much," said Marsalis. He mentioned that they would be doing a rendition of "Baa Baa Black Sheep". The tune started with the horns making bleating sounds and moved into something more musical before going back and forth between sheep sounds and musical stanzas. It was a crafty and comical composition.

They concluded the concert with a modern tale of self discovery with a diverse array of tempos and tones that had the feel of a tango. "Take care and have a good night," stated Wynton before they went into a quick "Happy Birthday" for Carlos. The crowd clapped along as the band played some spirited stuff before circling back to Happy Birthday.

The MPAC performance from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis was a broad overview of jazz dating back to the 1920's through today. The show focused on two major composers (Ellington and Mulligan) along with LC's own spin on jazz. It was certainly a magical and memorable concert.

The MPAC continues to host a wide range of magical events. It is located in the heart of downtown Morristown surrounded by stores, restaurants and old stone churches. The MPAC - which is 75 years old - continues to undergo renovations. The latest are upgrades to the restrooms on the balcony level. The venue has fine acoustics and hosts a wide range of shows. Upcoming concerts include America, Harry Connick Jr., Yes, Todd Rungren, Robert Randolph, Don Flelder and Tower of Power .

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Trumpet / Ryan Kisor, Trumpet / Marcus Printup, Trumpet / Kenny Rampton, Trumpet / Vincent Gardner, Trombone / Chris Crenshaw, Trombone / Elliot Mason, Trombone / Sherman Irby, Alto Saxophone / Ted Nash, Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet / Walter Blanding, Jr., Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet / Victor Goines, Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet / Joe Temperley, Baritone and Soprano Saxophones, Bass Clarinet / Dan Nimmer, Piano / Carlos Henriquez, Bass / Ali Jackson, Drums

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Come to Morristown
A portion of the large 15-piece big band in action at the MPAC.

Related Links: For more information on WYNTON MARSALIS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Wynton Marsalis | Jazz at Lincoln Center | Mayo PAC

(Originally Published on June 16, 2013)





SoundPress.net founder Rockin' Rich Lynch is a well-known radio host and celebrity interviewer through his Rockin' Rich Lynch on the Radio program. In his most recent show (#42) linked here he talks with rock icons RICHIE KOTZEN and DUG PINNICK- tune in below.






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