Jazz at Lincoln Center celebrates its 23rd season and begins the sixth season in its home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, on Broadway at 60th Street, with the tight swing of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. The Rose Theater debut of eclectic visionary Ornette Coleman is just the beginning of what's in store.
Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, says the season will be looking to reinvigorate by "providing the best jazz music to uplift people during these challenging times. From the hard-swinging JLCO to the holiday and family concerts, the well of jazz music runs deep and has provided inspiration, nourishment and happiness down through the generations regardless of circumstance."
Jazz at Lincoln Center Chairman of the Board Lisa Schiff adds that The House of Swing remains an oasis for New Yorkers and visitors, bringing people together through jazz education, performance, exhibits and more. "The new season promises food for the soul, with uplifting and engaging music," says Schiff.
Often called the "father of free jazz," Ornette Coleman notes that jazz "is a concept of emotion that is expressed through the sound which we call music. Music doesn't have a 'type,' it has a concept of how it's put together." Coleman is oblique, but deep.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1930, the multi-instrumentalist definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer, or two. In 1960, his record, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation, featured a double quartet including two trumpets, two bassists and two drummers. Coleman's take on the label free jazz? "It's logical and it makes sense. I don't think you can describe 'free.' As far as the ability to perform it, it has to do with the quality, harmonies and changes. Every sound has vibrations of how its tone is executed through instruments.
"I like all kinds of music. In classical music, there are maybe ten different sounds for the same note for the same concept of the name of the note. You have classical, you have funk, you have so many different styles of music: but it's still played by the same note. The style identifies who's doing the playing and who's creating the concept of what the styles sounds like." In 2007, Coleman was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his album Sound Grammar and he was inducted into Jazz at Lincoln Center's Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in 2008. He brings his unparalleled sound to Rose Theater on September 26.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis makes its season opening with The Ladies of Duke Ellington. To Duke Ellington, music was his mistress: a sophisticated lady, a satin doll and a tattooed bride. This special concert presents some of the most sensuous, romantic music from jazz's all-time ladies' man in Rose Theater October 15 _17.
The JLCO and Marsalis offer a full palate of colors, including an all-out swing fest of Marsalis's music, featuring tap dancer Jared Grimes. Soul Jazz of the '60s will feature Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson on alto saxophone searching for the spirit of Cannonball Adderley, while Kenny Washington keeps it in the pocket on drums with the music of Art Blakey. For the Mary Lou Williams Centennial, the JLCO is joined by special guests Geri Allen and Geoffrey Keezer. The Music of Gillespie and Puente features conguero Giovanni Hidalgo and drummer Ignacio Barroa.
In Jazz and Art II, saxophonist Ted Nash and Marsalis treat us to an auditory and visual swinging experience. Basie and the Blues will get your toes tapping with help from guest pianist Mulgrew Miller and vocalist Gregory Porter. The Music of Hancock and Roberts reveals the genius of pianists Herbie Hancock and Marcus Roberts with performance by Roberts and special guest, vibraphonist Bobby Huthcherson. Intuition: The Music of Bill Evans showcases the beauty of Evans' compositions for small and big bands, led by pianist Bill Charlap.
In The Allen Room: with its stunning view: will showcase Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express, as well as vocalist Dianne Reeves and saxophonist Maceo Parker.
Other season highlights include the fun-loving annual Red Hot Holiday Stomp; the anticipated return of gospel diva Kim Burrell; The Beats of NYC: A Culture of Slam featuring JLCO drummer Ali Jackson stepping out with Hope Boykin from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and pianist Marc Cary. Things heat up with Manhattan Transfer with Jon Hendricks. Feel the beat of Pablo Aslan: Tango Salon with bandone‹n giant Nestor Marconi and extraordinary reedman Paquito D'Rivera. Music Director Andy Farber brings you into The Music of Fats Waller, while Fats Waller: A Handful of Keys presents stridemasters Dick Hyman, Judy Carmichael and Marcus Roberts. Plug in and roll to the music of the award-winning Yellowjackets with Mike Stern, a true guitar phenomenon. Kurt Elling & Richard Galliano: Passion World match the magic of superior vocals and accordion. A Journey to Brazil will features Mario Adnet leading an all star-band to the music of Moacir Santos, who Marsalis describes as "nothing less than the Duke Ellington of South America."
The season is packed with the inspiring and educational family series Jazz for Young People, punctuated with a dazzling array of musical greats. And remember to bring your friends and swing over to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on a regular basis for the best programming of world-class headliners to the hottest new young talent around with a soulful dinner _ la culinary creators Great Performances. Tony Bennett calls it "The best jazz room in the city." Students get in for half price, so spread the word.
Scott H. Thompson is Assistant Director of Public Relations for Jazz at Lincoln Center.