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John Coltrane"s Music Gets New Life at Lincoln Center

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In jazz history, the often ignored contributions of the great arranger/orchestrators can never be overestimated. It was Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
1890 - 1941
piano
's orchestral writing that enabled "Black Bottom Stomp" to soar. In trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' Sketches of Spain (Columbia, 1960), it was Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
' pen that created the magic. At Town Hall, it was Hall Overton
Hall Overton
b.1920
's arrangements that brought the audience into the soul of pianist Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
.

As the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra once again took up the challenge of John Coltrane's oeuvre on Friday night, October 26, 2012, it was the musicians' arranging skills that provided the sparkle for a memorable concert. In recent years, director/trumpeter Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
has sought to extrapolate the writing talent from his band of merry musicians which has already improvised its way into the jazz hall of fame. The result has unleashed a cornucopia of delicious arrangements that continue to supply layers of cream to the musical cake and establish new standards of achievement for the LCJO.

Trombonist Ron Westray
Ron Westray
Ron Westray
b.1970
trombone
's crisp arrangement of Coltrane"s "Song of the Underground Railroad" started matters off as it unleashed articulate solos from saxophonist Walter Blanding
Walter Blanding
Walter Blanding
b.1971
saxophone
Jr., trombonist Elliot Mason
Elliot Mason
Elliot Mason
b.1977
trombone
and trumpeter Kenny Rampton. Blanding's solo instantly recalled Coltrane's insistence on sustained, one- noted howls and exhaustively repeated phrases which quickly became his trademark.

Along about 1961, Coltrane discovered Indian music, meeting sitarist Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar
1920 - 2012
sitar
and recording "India" in a live concert at the Village Vanguard with saxophonist/flautist/clarinetist Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
. Marsalis' crafted arrangement of this opus brought saxophonist Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
b.1969
saxophone
-the evening's featured soloist-onto the stage.

Redman's playing was remarkable. He precisely articulated Coltrane's eastern scales and modal colors with a thrilling freshness and vibrancy that transcended the original. The sheer thoughtfulness of his improvisations was uniquely powerful. Concluding "India," Redman installed a compelling cadenza, which cleverly segued into the rapid- fire head of Blandings' arrangement of "Giant Steps." Here, the LCJO paraded its version of the 3 Tenors, as Blandings, and Victor Goines
Victor Goines
Victor Goines
b.1961
reeds
paved the way, interspersed with pianist Dan Nimmer
Dan Nimmer
Dan Nimmer
b.1982
piano
's languorous lines and Ted Nash
Ted Nash
Ted Nash
b.1960
sax, tenor
's haunting flute solo.

Trombonist Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
Vincent Gardner
b.1972
trombone
's arrangement of "Like Sonny" occasioned another solo gem from Redman, as it wove through the complex multi-keyed composition. Saxophonist Sherman Irby
Sherman Irby
Sherman Irby
b.1968
saxophone
's arrangement of "Mr. Day" and Nash's arrangement of "My Favorite Things" were other highlights of an evening which celebrated the orchestrating talent of writing jazz musician as few concerts ever have.

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