Jazz at Lincoln Center Opens Rose Hall

Classic Arts News   Jazz at Lincoln Center Opens Rose Hall
Jazz at Lincoln Center's $128 million Frederick P. Rose Hall, the most ambitious venue ever created for jazz, opens with a gala performance tonight.

Among the jazz stars slated to appear are singer Abbey Lincoln, saxophonist Joe Lovano, and pianist Kenny Barron. Artistic director and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra will be joined by musical members of their families, including Marsalis's father Ellis, a pianist, and his brothers Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason. The concert will be broadcast on PBS's Live From Lincoln Center starting at 8 p.m. (EDT).

The gala kicks off a three-week opening festival, with events exploring the history of jazz and its connections to other art forms. Comedian Bill Cosby‹a drummer and famous lover of jazz‹appears with the LCJO at a concert on October 21; poets Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez are joined by jazz combos for an exploration of spoken word on October 22 and 23. Three nights of concerts next week focus on cousins of jazz: blues, country, and soul. From November 3-5, Marsalis collaborates with choreographers Peter Martins and Garth Fagan in an evening of dance and jazz. More traditional concerts include appearances by singers Dianne Reeves, Freddy Cole, and Cassandra Wilson, as well as the LCJO performing its bread-and-butter repertoire, the music of bandleaders Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Located at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan's Columbus Circle, Rose Hall, designed by architect Rafael Viê±oly, contains three wood-paneled performance spaces: the 1,100-1,231-seat Rose Theater; the 310-550-seat Allen Room, a terraced amphitheater overlooking Central Park; and the 140-seat Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. The hall also includes classrooms, recording studios, and the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, a multimedia gallery dedicated to the music's pantheon of heroes, from Jelly Roll Morton to Miles Davis.

Both the Rose Theater and the Allen Room allow for multiple configurations. In the Rose Theater, movable towers can be added to provide seating around the edges of the stage, or removed to allow for opera sets (former New York City mayor Rudolph Guliani, an opera fan, insisted that the hall accommodate opera). The Allen Room's risers can be raised or lowered to fit banquet tables.

The acoustics of the Rose Theater, created by Russell Johnson's Artec Consultants and the Walters-Storyk Design Group, are also adjustable: by opening a fly space, technicians can lengthen the echo time for classical music, or shorten it for jazz. The theater is isolated from the rest of the building by rubber pads, reducing noise from the subway and surrounding areas to almost nothing.

The hall is the culmination of JALC's decades-long effort, driven by Marsalis's missionary zeal, to give jazz a platform befitting a major art form. The institution grew out of a summer jazz series at Lincoln Center in the late 1980s, directed by Marsalis and titled "Classical Jazz." In 1991, Jazz at Lincoln Center became a department of Lincoln Center; in 1996 it became a full-fledged constituent organization.

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