Wynton Marsalis/Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at Chicago Symphony Center
"Resolution started strong with its opening Coltrane melody blast articulated by, in turn, the trombones, saxophones, and trumpetsbut stumbled into some oddly and inappropriately urbane ensemble parts. Things took off again as Sherman Irby played a bluesy, tart alto solo over the rhythm section alone (the music always improved when the band stripped down to small ensembles, free of the overcooked, weighty arrangements), Jackson driving him forward vigorously. Marsalis brought the house down as he walked slowly around the stage ripping out rapidfire, perfectly-articulated notes (can't deny that Marsalis technique) during his solo on the up-tempo "Pursuance, again alongside a smaller-group formation. Ted Nash's solo on curved soprano was the evening's best moment, however; he alone managed to convey a sense of real desperation and life-and-death dramaand isn't that what Coltrane's music is about? Around these high points, back come the leaden, arch ensemblesentering like humorless disciplinarian headmasters just when things start to get, well, fun.
"Psalm ended the opus with a somber, desolate majesty; this part was gussied with some obvious but lovely Charles Mingus Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
-style colors and spiritual yowls (Marsalis emitting cup-mute vocal shrieks throughout) over Jackson's stately mallets. Here, the ensembles seemed to fit the music less suffocatingly, and some of Coltrane's emotion and epic vision came through.
The full house showed none of my reservations, cheering every note in every set with raucous (for Symphony Center, anyway) approval.