Visits from Wynton Marsalis and this stellar jazz big band are always an occasion, although the absence of Scottish saxophonist Joe Temperley through illness will have disappointed many.
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra - Usher Hall, Edinburgh
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Disappointment would be too strong a reaction to the overall performance, although for me the show lacked the final degree of sparkle and engagement that would have lifted it above simply impressive.
Their theme was the history of Blue Note Records, and the first set stuck with that script as they worked their way through attractive arrangements of tunes by such luminaries as Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and a homage to the late Horace Silver, who died recently, in the shape of his Blowin’ The Blues Away and Senor Blues.
The ensemble playing was impeccable and the soloing sharp and inventive, but there was a slightly routine feel to proceedings in this rather formal setting. They opened the second half with a crowd-pleasing romp through the New Orleans classic Weary Blues, and followed it with the gem of the programme, trombonist Vincent Gardner’s superb arrangement of Freddie Redd’s rarely heard The Thespian.
The script was then tossed aside when Marsalis brought on violinist Nicola Benedetti to play two of his own pieces with pianist Dan Nimmer, a popular but somewhat out of context surprise.
They concluded the set with Temperley’s request that they play Ellington’s gorgeous Symphonette, and Marsalis returned with a quintet for a generous encore.
Seen on 27.06.14