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Red Hot Holiday Stomp at Jazz at Lincoln Center
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Red Hot Holiday Stomp at Jazz at Lincoln Center

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Jazz at Lincoln Center

Red Hot Holiday Stomp

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

Wynton Marsalis, Trumpet
Wycliffe Gordon, Tuba/Trombone
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Alto-Saxophone
Victor Goines, Tenor Saxophone/Clarinet
Joe Temperley, Baritone Saxophone
Ellis Marsalis, Piano
Reginald Veal, Bass
Herlin Riley, Drums
Don Vappie, Banjo/Guitar
Roberta Gumbel, Vocals

Scott Thompson and Zooey Tidal: Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 15, 2005

Tonight’s scintillating Holiday program, featuring Music Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis, as talkative host and performing on his trumpet and his father, Ellis Marsalis, renowned pianist, was a mix of New Orleans styled jazz, ballads, Christmas songs, swing, and fragments of Latin and classical. This was one of the finest programs I’ve seen this season, and Wynton and his Dad were generous with solos and with showcasing the rest of their band, extrapolated from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Two exceptions were Roberta Gumbel, a singer with an extraordinary voice and graceful poise, and a young guest pianist, not mentioned on the program. There was even a tribute to the Jazz at Lincoln Center development office.

Jingle Bells opened the program (two sets, one intermission), and atonal, jazzy, new Orleans rhythms resounded, midst the bells. There was jazz mixed with Silent Night, featuring Roberta Gumbel, with a mellow, mellifluous voice, in a reserved, but resonant performance. Sheik of Arabee, sexy, danceable, and infused with classical quotes, featured Ellis Marsalis, as well as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The senior Mr. Marsalis breezed across his keyboard in the most relaxed piano jazz, with assurance and seasoned grace. I would love to hear Ellis Marsalis in a solo piano performance of non-Holiday jazz, just his favorite ballads and works of choice. This was a pro’s pro.

When Wynton told stories about elves and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as well as Santa and family anecdotes, he was endearing and loveable. One of the high points was a tuba solo, featuring Wycliffe Gordon, who added a few vocals, à la Louis Armstrong. Reginald Veal, on bass, and Gordon, this time on trombone, were powerful in Good King Wenceslas. Herlin Riley used drums, tambourine, bells, and more to enhance the Holiday mood and music. Sometimes Ellis Marsalis played the high notes for bell-like ornamentations and surprises.

Another vocalist, Don Vappie, on guitar, sang and played Blue Christmas, all the while evoking the French Quarter, New Orleans, original home of the Marsalis family. Joe Temperley took some solos on baritone sax, once along with the guitarist and once standing alone. His true solo was as smooth as Scotch (his homeland brew). Other high points were Riley’s drum solos and, of course, Wynton’s incandescent trumpet passages, either muted or blasting, so Christmasy, so brassy, so classy. Veal had more solos, and he takes the theme and sends it around Rose Hall. Oh Christmas Tree, with bass, banjo, and hot swing rhythm, was an extra special treat.

Victor Goines, on tenor sax and clarinet, and Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, on alto sax, were also featured in extraordinary solos from time to time. Red Hot Holiday Stomp certainly energized the opening night crowd. Check to see Jazz at Lincoln Center’s current and upcoming schedule.

Red Hot Holiday Stomp
Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Red Hot Holiday Stomp with Ellis Marsalis
Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at