Sunday, January 27, 2013

LCJO followup + Branford Comes to CT

As reported a few days ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to see and hear the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, music director, in concert at The Bushnell in Hartford on Saturday January 26.  The 15-member LCJO were in fine form as they are in the midst of a long tour.  Regulars Marcus Printup (trumpet) and baritone saxophone Joe Temperley both did not make the gig but their replacements (whose names I could not hear over the applause) were up to the task. 2012-2013 being the Orchestra's 25th anniversary, impresario Marsalis decided the repertoire for this tour would consist on the band's influences.  No surprise that the first half was dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington, opening with "The Mooche" and moving on to "Mood Indigo" before culminating in the "Red Suite."  (There were several other pieces as well.)  Part 2 featured the music of Gerry Mulligan, a former resident of Connecticut, a fine composer and great baritone saxophonist.  The "groove" was a bit different, a touch more modern (the newest piece was from 1971's "The Age of Steam", a sweet waltz titled "Golden Notebooks") and gave more space to pianist Dan Nimmer (whose accompaniment behind Walter Blanding's tenor on "Lonesome Boulevard" was wonderfully impressionistic.)

I would have happily sat through another 60 minutes of music (the evening consisted of 2 50-minute sets) but that (and the fact there was no program with the names of musicians) was the only blemish. Wynton was a gracious emcee and his solos showed his wonderful range and sense of humor.  A conservative program? Perhaps, but one filled with spirit and swing (bassist Carlos Henriques and drummer Ali Jackson deserve much praise for their playing.)  My thanks to Bill King for the invite and the pleasant company.

Wynton's older brother (by a year) Branford is coming to Connecticut on February 7 to play at UCONN's Jorgenson Auditorium. The saxophonist (tenor and soprano) is bringing his top-notch Quartet, an ensemble that features Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass) and Justin Faulkner (drums).  This group also plays with great spirit but the music goes in directions that the LCJO usually eschews yet the band's ballad work is quite beautiful. The BMQ's 2012 CD, "4 MFs Playin' Tunes" (Marsalis Music), placed in numerous "Best-Of" lists and is the blueprint of the ensemble's live shows.  For ticket information, go to or call 860-486-4226.

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