Jazz at Lincoln Center
JLCO Fresh Sounds:
Ted Nash & Victor Goines
Presidential Suite by Ted Nash
Crescent City by Victor Goines
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director
Charles S. Dutton, Oration
(Dutton Web Page)
Branford Marsalis, Saxophone
Keith Gibson, Comanche Hunter
(Chief Keith Gibson Video)
Frederick P. Rose Hall
Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center
Ted Nash, Co-Musical Director, Saxophones, Flutes, Clarinets
Victor Goines, Co-Musical Director, Saxophones, Clarinets
Ryan Kisor, Trumpet
Kenny Rampton, Trumpet
Marcus Printup, Trumpet
Greg Gisbert, Trumpet
Vincent Gardner, Trombone
Chris Crenshaw, Trombone
Elliot Mason, Trombone
Sherman Irby, Saxophones, Flutes, Clarinets
Walter Blanding, Saxophones, Clarinets
Paul Nedzela, Saxophones, Clarinets
Dan Nimmer, Piano
Carlos Henriquez, Bass
Ali Jackson, Drums
Zooey T. Jones, Director, Public Relations
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 18, 2014
Jazz at Lincoln Center presented what it calls Fresh Sounds, or new compositions by two stars of the Orchestra, Ted Nash and Victor Goines, both masters of the saxophone and clarinet and both composers and renowned musicians and teachers in the national jazz community. Of course, both artists are featured frequently at their Jazz at Lincoln Center home and its various venues. (See a review of Ted Nash’s Portraits in Seven Shades). Ted Nash’s Presidential Suite is based on speeches made by international leaders, using the cadence and pitch of the words and phrases to inspire the cadence and pitch of the respective musical pieces in the overall Suite. The music inspired by each speech is juxtaposed to the actual speech, brilliantly and charismatically spoken by Charles E. Dutton, an accomplished actor of film and stage. The resulting power of the music and orations created quite a stunning and vibrant first half of the evening.
After an engaging Overture, Presidential Suite began with John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You”. The following speeches, passionately, poetically, and poignantly presented by Mr. Dutton, by memory, I might add, were Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny”, Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “The Four Freedoms”, Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Freedom from Fear”, Ronald Raegan’s “Tear Down This Wall”, Lyndon B. Johnson’s “The American Promise”, and Nelson Mandela’s “The Time for the Healing of the Wounds Has Come”. Mr. Dutton would glance at notes, during the orchestral segments, then essentially speak from memory, not in the character of the original speechmakers, but with powerful persuasion.
In the orchestral passages, Mr. Nash wrote solos for numerous musicians onstage, each solo generating audience accolades. The work began with brassy trumpets, saxes, and heraldic effects, which turned bluesy in the second segment. Ted Nash played an early solo, contemporary and compelling, an urgent plea. Melancholy, foreboding, urban motifs added a midnight jazz aura, while the following musical interlude was a slow swing, easy, casual, upbeat, followed by elements of a marching band turned atonal and frenzied. The word patters spoken by Mr. Dutton would be matched by musical patterns and tempos. Echoing rhythmic phrasing was later followed by dizzying speedy phrasing, with drums and cymbals. The music, in its finale, enhanced by a drum solo, had spark and spunk. I analyzed the music in the gestalt, a plea for freedom, human rights, dignity, and compassion, drawn from eight essential speeches and transcribed into eight essential compositions, played as interludes among the words. The concept was equally as inspirational as the speeches themselves.
Victor Goines’ Crescent City is an homage to his hometown, New Orleans. Branford Marsalis, a Tony Award-nominated composer and Grammy winning saxophonist, was a virtuosic soloist on saxophones. The six Movements of Mr. Goines’ composition are “Mississippi Mud Shuffle”, “A Dance at the Mardi Gras Ball”, “Marie Laveau”, “Crescent City Express”, “Her Eyes Smile”, and “Down by the Bayou”. Between each Movement, Mr. Goines gave the audience warm and humorous introductions of the personal significance of the title. For example, Marie Laveau was a renowned lady about town in her day. Of course, the Mardi Gras reference speaks for itself. Mr. Goines is often reviewed on this page for his orchestral performances in the Rose Theater as well as ensemble performances in Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. His Crescent City was just as embracing and vivacious as his ensemble appearances.
Crescent City begins with a celebratory, soaring theme, and, in the second movement, Brandon Marsalis, on scintillating sax, is followed by fluttering flutes, then by a vibrant trumpet solo. The effect is echoing, elegant, and expansive. The third movement is filled with exotic percussion, as the mysterious Marie Laveau is evoked. Muted brass and Mr. Marsalis’ slinky, sassy soprano sax abound. The fourth movement features Vincent Gardner on solo trombone. The trombone generates whistling sounds, like a speeding train. The fifth movement, according to Mr. Goines, invokes the sunrises over New Orleans. Carlos Henriquez presents a sumptuous bass solo, like a slow dance, at the end of a long evening. The rhythms repeat. It’s obvious at this point in the program how seasoned this Orchestra is, how adept at interpreting each other’s compositions, and how much respect the musicians have for one another, as eye contact and smiles tell it all.
The final movement, “Down by the Bayou”, brought out the final guest, Keith Gibson, Comanche Hunter, in full Mardi Gras regalia, dressed as an American Indian Chief, with full headdress and costume. Keith Gibson is noted as the Big Chief in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, who leads the Comanche Hunters Mardi Gras Indians. He led the full Orchestra into a chanting conga line through the audience and out the door, with each musician chanting or playing hand-held percussion, while the audience clapped in rhythm. Everyone participated in the finale. Kudos to Ted Nash and Victor Goines, and kudos to Charles Dutton, Brandon Marsalis, Chief Gibson, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.