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Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Celebrates McCoy Tyner and Charles McPherson

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McCoy Tyner and Charles McPherson at 80

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director
Greg Scholl, Executive Director

Frederick P. Rose Hall
Rose Theater
Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Sherman Irby, Music Director, Alto Saxophone
Wynton Marsalis, Trumpet
Ryan Kisor, Trumpet
Kenny Rampton, Trumpet
Marcus Printup, Trumpet
Elliot Mason, Trombone
Chris Crenshaw, Trombone
Dion Tucker, Trombone
Ted Nash, Alto Saxophone
Victor Goines, Tenor Saxophone
Camille Thurman, Tenor Saxophone
Paul Nedzela, Baritone Saxophone
Dan Nimmer, Piano
Carlos Henriquez, Bass
Stefan Schatz, Drums


Gerald Cannon, Bass
Joe Farnsworth, Drums

Zooey T. Jones, JALC Director, Public Relations
and External Communications
Rebecca Kim, JALC Asst. Director, Public Relations
and External Communications

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 6, 2019

Program: Compositions by McCoy Tyner and Charles McPherson.

Once again Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) Orchestra performed a riveting, informative, and poignant concert, this time a tribute to pianist, McCoy Tyner, now 80, whom I had the privilege of experiencing in live performances over the decades, including at the now-shuttered Sweet Basil, and saxophonist, Charles McPherson, also now 80. On these pages I have favorably reviewed Mr. Tyner in 2003 in trio and Mr. McPherson in 2004 in quartet, both performances at Birdland. Sherman Irby was center stage tonight, as the show’s congenial Music Director, host, and commentator. Even though the Orchestra’s Managing and Artistic Director, Wynton Marsalis, always sits in the rear trumpet section, never seizing the spotlight except when his ravishing trumpet solos fill Rose Hall, his eyes and ears are visually active, watching over his masterful musicians and nodding in approval, smiling in adoration.

Mr. Tyner was seated in a side, front box with his family and did not perform tonight. But he loved the Part I tributes and hearing his own compositions, each arranged by a member of the Orchestra. Mr. McPherson performed in Part II of tonight’s program, when his own compositions were showcased in original arrangements by JALC Orchestra musicians.

The first half of the program, dedicated to McCoy Tyner’s tunes (see a link above to his website and biography), opened with “Inception”, in the composer’s own arrangement. It evoked Brubeck at times, in repetitive, jazzy riffs. Dan Nimmer on piano and Stefan Schatz on drums were featured. Tyner’s “Man from Tanganyika” was next, arranged by Chris Crenshaw. Flutes and horns were prominent, and I noted an evocation of Herbie Mann. “Ballad for Aisha”, arranged by Ted Nash, brought this saxophonist to the front stage microphone, and his bluesy, romantic intonations were captivating. We also heard trumpet solos by Marcus Printup and Ryan Kisor. Tyner’s “Blues on the Corner”, arranged by Sherman Irby, featured Carlos Henriquez’ bass solo and Mr. Irby’s solo on sax. “Fly with the Wind”, also arranged by Mr. Irby, kept the alto saxophonist busy. Spotlighted here were a tenor sax, flutes, piano, and trombone.

The second half of the program, dedicated to Charles McPherson’s tunes (see a link above to his website and biography), opened with “Jumping Jacks”, arranged by Ted Nash. Paul Nedzela, on baritone sax, and Mr. Henriquez on bass, joined this opening piece to draw the Jazz at Lincoln Center fans into Mr. McPherson’s compositions. “Marionette”, arranged by Angel “Papo” Vazquez, brought Mr. McPherson out with the Orchestra. It was time for one of Wynton Marsalis’ exuberant, expansive trumpet solos, and we were all reminded of Mr. Marsalis’ unsurpassed artistry on the trumpet. His solos always make the experience exceptionally memorable. And, he always seems humbled by the effusive accolades. McPherson’s “Nightfall”, arranged by Marcus Printup, brought this trumpeter to stage front for his solo. His melodic duet with Mr. McPherson brought down the house. Stunning it was, with a big band sound.

“7th Dimension”, arranged by Kenny Rampton, a moody, danceable piece, had Mr. McPherson and Mr. Irby in a duet, one for the ages. “Bud Like”, arranged by Vincent Gardner, had Mr. Rampton on a muted trumpet solo, which could not have been more soulful. Mr. Printup also appeared on solo trumpet. McPherson’s “Horizons”, arranged by Victor Goines, closed the program. I was incredibly impressed and immersed in this superb concert, throughout the evening. It should be noted that Gerald Cannon on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums, as well as Elliot Mason, Chris Crenshaw, and Dion Tucker, all on trombones, plus Victor Goines and Camille Thurman on tenor sax, were each spotlighted in this program, and they all performed with engaging musical style. Kudos to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and kudos to McCoy Tyner and Charles McPherson.