Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Massey Hall Toronto, Canada February 1, 2011
If big band fans relish their enjoyment of musical artistry, then the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) would have to be on their shortlist. The venerable Massey Hall was appropriately sold out for this performance of the current Vitoria Suite (Emarcy, 2010) tour. Not even the threat of a major regional snow storm could keep people away. The Suite gets its name from the city in the Basque region of Spain where Wynton Marsalis
and the band frequently tour as part of their busy road schedule. The musicians have developed a clear appreciation for the local jazz festival, as well as the city.
The relaxed and always sharp-looking band kicked things off with the fast-swinging "Mendizorrotza Swing," the 12th and last movement of the recording, that parallels a 12-bar blues. Other selections from the Vitoria Suite included the 3/4 "Tree of Freedom," and "Jason and Jasone," with Victor Goines
traditions, it has certainly broadened its musical horizons as well spread the wealth of arrangements amongst its talented musicians. Trombonist Chris Crenshaw led a rendition of "Bearden (The Block)," after African-American artist and writer Romare Bearden, the melody starting out with the trombone section, supported by the saxophones contributing deep moods. It eventually slid into a tasteful ballad solo by Goines, on tenor sax. The next image of the collage was a bit reminiscent of a rhythmic hand-clapping and foot-stomping clip from Marsalis' earlier Blood On The Fields (Sony, 1997) project. Later, in the spirit of a recent tour to Cuba, bassist Carlos Henriquez added some Afro-Cuban clavé and cha-cha-cha textures with "2-3's Adventure." Ted Nash
's "I Left My Baby (Standing In The Back Door Crying)" was complemented by Crenshaw, showcasing his blues vocal talents with the saxophones in the background, anchored by the rhythm section. Trumpeter Marcus Printup
's "Matrix." An added original touch found the rhythm section continuing to play as the rest of the band left the stage, rather than the show coming to a complete stop. Marsalis eventually came back for an encore, swinging next to pianist Dan Nimmer