Jazz at Lincoln Center – Dianne Reeves

dianne-reeves-jpgI’ve heard Dianne Reeves on recordings and thought she was OK in small doses. However, the live performance in the Rose Theater was a wonderful sonic experience. She is an exceptional musician with a fine way with the audience and fun personality. Every member of the band was talented in their own special way. She did a fabulous job recognizing them individually at the end. Truly an amazing show that made me smile!

The song list came mostly from her latest release, Beautiful Life.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Jazz

Jazz at Lincoln Center – JLCO Fresh Sounds: Ted Nash & Victor Goins

JLCO_lineup0209Growing up as a trumpet player, being in the jazz band – or stage band as it was often called – was a joy. I often enjoyed playing in a smaller group (as compared to the larger bands and orchestras) and learn about a different style of music. This evening, filled with music by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, brought back some of those memories. The audience heard two commissions by two members of the Orchestra – Ted Nash and Victor Goines.

  • Ted Nash – Presidential Suite – based on speeches from various world leaders over the past century or so
  • Victor Goins – Crescent City – a suite depicting aspects of New Orleans
By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Jazz

JALC – Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club

Buena_Vista_Social_Club_2The first concert of my subscription proved to be a lively evening of Cuban music. Interesting history from Wikipedia:

The Buena Vista Social Club was a members club in Havana, Cuba, that held dances and musical activities, becoming a popular location for musicians to meet and play during the 1940s. In the 1990s, nearly 50 years after the club was closed, it inspired a recording made by Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder with traditional Cuban musicians, some of whom were veterans who had performed at the club during the height of its popularity.

The recording, named Buena Vista Social Club after the Havana institution, became an international success, and the ensemble was encouraged to perform with a full line-up in Amsterdam in 1998. German director Wim Wenders captured the performance on film, followed by a second concert in Carnegie Hall, New York City for a documentary that included interviews with the musicians conducted in Havana. Wenders’ film, also called Buena Vista Social Club, was released to critical acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and winning numerous accolades including Best Documentary at the European Film Awards.

The success of both the album and film sparked a revival of international interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with international stars from different musical genres. The “Buena Vista Social Club” name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases, and has been likened to a brand label that encapsulates Cuba’s “musical golden age” between the 1930s and 1950s. The new success was fleeting for the most recognizable artists in the ensemble: Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who died at the ages of ninety-five, eighty-four, and seventy-eight respectively; Segundo and González in 2003, then Ferrer in 2005.

Several surviving members of the Buena Vista Social Club, such as trumpeter Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal, laúd player Barbarito Torres and trombonist and conductor Jesus “Aguaje” Ramos currently tour worldwide, to popular acclaim, with new members such as the singer Carlos Calunga, virtuoso pianist Rolando Luna[1][2] and occasionally the solo singer Omara Portuondo, as part of a 13 member band called Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.

It was a fun evening, entirely in Spanish, and the audience was clearly enjoying the entertainment.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Jazz

New York Philharmonic – Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

I love this time of year – warmer weather, longer days of light. The only downside is that the New York Philharmonic’s season is coming to an end. Another satisfying concert with some very interesting, unusual programming, thanks to Music Director, Alan Gilbert.

The centerpiece of the evening was Marsalis’ Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3), featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Gilbert. As a prelude to this work, we heard a first half of jazz influenced works – Stravinsky’s Ragtime for 11 Instruments and Shostakovich’s Tahiti Trot (Tea for Two). These works were directed by Assistant Conductor, Case Scaglione. The opening half concluded with Copland’s Clarinet Concerto and Mark Nuccio on clarinet.

Jazz at Lincoln Center – Branford Marsalis and Yes! Trio

branfordThis concert was the third in the Visionary Voices Series presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center. I’m glad I subscribed this year, since I was exposed to some different kinds of music I hadn’t been aware of previously: Toots Thielemans and Eddie Palmieri from the first two concerts. This concert introduced me to the Yes! Trio and Brandford Marsalis.

The Yes! Trio opened the concert with numerous original compositions. I enjoyed their style and have downloaded their latest recording. The group consists of Ali Jackson, Aaron Goldberg and Omer Avital. The second half consisted of Marsalis providing a retrospective of the music of the saxophone greats over time, including Ornette Coleman, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet and John Coltrane.

More on Yes!.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Jazz

Eddie Palmieri: A Career Retrospective

eddie_palmieri_crop_0This year I’ve subscribed to a 3-concert series at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Earlier this year, I attended the first concert in the series, Toots Thielemans Celebrating 90 Years at Jazz At Lincoln Center. The second concert featured Eddie Palmieri, the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet and the Eddie Palmieri Orchestra in Eddie Palmieri: A Career Perspective.

I learned the appeal that Afro-Caribbean jazz and dance music can have. The first half of the program showcased the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet with the second half all Afro-Caribbean dance music. The audience could hardly stay in their seats. Literally. I saw an audience member get out of his seat and dance in a side aisle during one of the tunes. The music is appealing because of highly infectious repetitious rhythms that build to a frenzy. The musicians, particularly trumpeter Brian Lynch and trombonist Conrad Herwig, communicated a musical passion I haven’t seen in quite some time.

The only downside to the evening was the sound design. The first fifteen minutes were rough with the piano overpowering, almost painful to listen to. As I exited the hall, my ears were ringing. Maybe my ears are sensitive, but some of the frenzied music making, while enjoyable, was putting me near my threshold of pain.

Looks like I’ll be heading over to iTunes and downloading some Afro-Caribbean jazz! I enjoyed learning about a new style of music I wasn’t all that familiar with.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Jazz