I’m beginning to lose count of the number of times I’ve seen Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra playing their big band jazz, but it doesn’t really matter, as it’s a joy to see them every single time they’re in the country.
This time around it’s an especially good treat as they’re actually in residency at the Barbican for a few days playing a series of concerts and events not just for ticket payers, but for school kids, youth orchestras and the local community in general.
When I arrived at the Barbican a youth jazz orchestra was playing to a rapt crowd in the Barbican’s foyer, and it just got better from there.
We had the traditional three rows of a by now very familiar group of musicians playing pieces from the early swing era of the 1930s, including pieces from Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton amongst others. Marsalis, as ever, introduces each piece and generally seemed to have a really good time enjoying guest appearances from Elaine Delmar and Christian Garrick.
A chap near me who I’d initially thought was an official photographer given his DSLR and position, turned out to be something of a dancer, and just couldn’t help himself at one point!
A wonderful evening.
Incidentally, the performance was being recorded on video for archival purposes, but also, we were told for CBS News’ 60 Minutes for broadcast later in the year. I counted at least three video cameras recording the concert including one that was positioned three seats along for me. Although we don’t get 60 Minutes in the UK, I’ll try to keep an eye out for the programme’s broadcast.
Marsalis himself is playing at least a couple more concerts including one I’m really looking forward to going to at the Hackney Empire on Sunday night. But anyone in London should definitely try to get along to Victoria Park on Saturday where there are some free open air concerts.
As a side note to those who come here for radio and media bits and pieces, it’s worth pointing out that jazz as a music form has just about completely been handed over to the BBC. Although Jazz FM still exists on some DAB multiplexes as well as Sky and the internet, the last major commercial stations to play jazz – Smooth FM (once itself Jazz FM) – is currently trying to persuade Ofcom that even the minimal amount of jazz it does still broadcast is too much.