Jazz orchestra brings soul, blues


Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performed Tuesday night at Laxson Auditorium. Photo credit: Matthew Vacca

A very busy crowd was out for a night of jazz, despite the event resting upon the middle of the work week.

Presented by Chico Performances, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis gave a Chico audience one hell of a jazz performance Wednesday night at Laxson Auditorium.

The jazz orchestra is world-renown for their musical performances. Its director, Wynton Marsalis, has been a recipient of many prestigious awards, including nine Grammys and the first Pulitzer Prize in music awarded to a jazz artist, for his work “Blood on the Fields.”

The jazz orchestra opened up their two-hour performance with John Coltrane’s “Africa,” and what an opening it was.

With strong elements of blues and a wonderful performance by bassist Carlos Henriquez, the orchestra was very quick to garnish applause from the audience.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra didn’t hit the brakes on their performances after their great opening.

Song after song, the orchestra delivered a jazz performance that left many listeners in awe. Every musician within the orchestra had the chance to showcase their musical talents, throughout many of the songs.

One such moment occurred during the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra song “A Child Is Born.” Marcus Printup, who was featured as the lead trumpet for the song, delivered a soulful blues sound that was so smooth it could give a listener goosebumps.

While the music delivery throughout the night was purely professional, Marsalis kept the night interesting and fun by providing humor with history lessons for each song the orchestra performed.

“I thought it was fantastic, absolutely fabulous,” said attendee Rosemary Leonard. “I just enjoyed the fact that he gives a dialogue of the artists and talks about their work.”

Before the Thelonious Monk song “Epistrophy,” Marsalis joked with the audience that there would be an award if anyone in attendance could provide a definition for the song title. After a ten second pause, the crowd and Marsalis both laughed in harmony at the light hearted joke.

The highlight of the performance came during the rendition of John Coltrane’s song “Alabama.” Marsalis provided the importance of the song, explaining that Coltrane had composed “Alabama” in response to a 1963 bombing of a Baptist Church that was orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

Saxophonist Paul Nedzela led the Coltrane song and was able to successfully deliver a deep blues sound, which beautifully captured the emotional turmoil of the event through his notes.

To close the night, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra delivered one last Coltrane song, which displayed a wide range of genres including sounds of country, jazz, gospel, blues and folk.

As the song ended, the audience gave the orchestra a well-deserved applause for the amazing journey through the history of jazz they had just experienced.

The Wednesday night audience was lucky because they were able to be part of a special closing birthday celebration for 30-year-old musician Nedzela. He delivered one last saxophone solo as the crowd joined in, serenading him with birthday wishes.

Overall, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s performance was memorable for many in attendance.

Michael Quiring can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.