JLCO’s Latest Live Recording Paints A Rich Musical Picture For Audiences

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis has been busy this year with new live recordings.  Between January and March, the collective released four new live recordings.  One of those recordings was a performance of the greatest hits of famed jazz sax player Wayne Shorter.  The other paid tribute to legendary band leader and composer Duke Ellington.  Yet another was an original work by one of the organization’s own musicians, Sherman Irby while the latest was a tribute to the history of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program.  Simply put, the group’s latest group of live recordings has offered audiences quite a variety of material to engage and entertain audiences.  JLCO continued that trend of presenting diversity in its releases Friday with the release of Christopher Crenshaw’s The Fifties: A Prism.  Crafted by Crenshaw, another member of JLCO, this latest offering from JLCO impresses in part because it continues that noted trend.  This will be discussed shortly.  The songs that make up the body of the recording are just as important to its overall presentation as its approach, and will be addressed a little later.  The performance of those songs is also important to address in an examination of the recording, and will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Christopher Crenshaws The Fifties: A Prism.  All things considered, they make the recording a modern day blast from the past that any jazz lover will enjoy.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis has established a trend of success in recent years with its live recordings.  That trend continues with its latest recording, Christopher Crenshaws The Fifties: A Prism.  That is proven in part through the recording’s through its concept.  The recording’s concept is a retrospective on the music of the 1950s.  More specifically, it pays tribute to the jazz sounds of the 1950s, according to Crenshaw himself during an interview promoting the new recording.

“When I was presented with the idea of coming up with a suite dealing with the 1950s, I immediately realized this was going to cover all the genres of jazz, from bebop to freedom music,” Crenshaw said.

That tribute to the various jazz subgenres from the 1950s is a welcome presentation, as it continues to show the intention of the JLCO to bring something new and unique to audiences from one performance to the next.  It is just the latest unique presentation from the group, too.  From taking on material from the realm of family music, to creating a tribute to the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program, to creating a new musical interpretation of Dante’s epic poem Inferno to taking on the music of jazz legend Wayne Shorter and more, the group has constantly given audiences something different and enjoyable in every one of its offerings.  This record is just one more of those unique, original concepts.  Keeping that in mind, that original approach in itself makes the concert recording well worth experiencing.  It is just part of what makes the recording engaging and entertaining.  Its featured songs add to that experience.

The songs that make up the body of Christopher Crenshaws The Fifties: A Prism are noteworthy because they do in fact cover a wide range of sounds from the fifties.  Right from the performance’s outset, audiences are treated to a touch of bebop in ‘Flipped His Lid.’  The nearly seven-minute composition exhibits that through its up-tempo arrangement and its key and chord changes, as well as its full-on improvisational style from its soloists.  From the beginning to the end of this opus, audiences’ engagement and entertainment is fully ensured.  That swing-inspired bop sound continues in the performance’s second song, ‘Just A-Slidin’’ before giving way to more of a mainstream jazz approach in ‘Conglomerate.’  ‘Cha-Cha Toda la Noche’ presents more of an Afro-Cuban jazz style.  Given, that genre originally is rooted in music from the 1940s, but since that time, has become very much a standard within the jazz world.  JLCO switches things up again in its performance of ‘Unorthodox Sketches,’ opting this time for a more cool jazz approach, once more ensuring audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  ‘Pursuit of the New Thing,’ which closes out the record, has elements of bop, but could als be argued to have a touch of free jazz.  Given, it’s not a free jazz composition in its purity, but that seeming combination of elements shows once again a concerted effort by Crenshaw to craft another song that paid tribute to that subgenre of jazz, too.  Looking back at the album’s body, listeners can say with certainty that Crenshaw accomplished his goal of paying tribute to the jazz of the 1950s with these compositions.  To that end, it is clear why they are so important to this recording’s presentation.  They show that Crenshaw did not rest easily on his laurels.  Rather, that he really wanted to keep listeners engaged and entertained, which he did so quite successfully here.  While the songs featured in this recording play their own critical role in the whole of JLCO’s latest live offering, they are only one more portion of what makes it important.  The group’s performance of each song is important in its own right to the whole of the presentation, too.

The performance of the JLCO’s members in each of this concert’s songs is noteworthy because it displays the professionalism and expertise of each musician.  From the energetic, yet controlled performance of the show’s opener to the equally upbeat yet controlled performance of Just A-Slidin’ to the more subdued performance of ‘Conglomerate’ and beyond, each musician exhibits the utmost precision in his/her performance.  The group showed throughout the concert, full attention to the dynamics in each arrangement, which in turn added so much depth and enjoyment to the show in whole.  The performances show that each of the group’s musicians clearly gave the utmost attention to giving audiences something memorable.  That effort and care paid off in whole, putting the finishing touch to this recording.  Between this element, the songs featured in the recording and the very concept at the recording’s heart, audiences get here, another successful offering from JLCO, which cements even more, its place in the bigger picture of the jazz world.

Christopher Crenshaws The Fifties: A Prism is another strong, positive offering from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra that lovers of the genre (and its many subgenres) will wholly appreciate.  It is also a live recording that is deserving of its own applause in this year’s field of new live offerings overall.  That is proven in part through the very approach taken with this record.  Once again, the orchestra has offered audiences a unique concept, this time paying tribute to the history of at least one era of jazz history.  The songs featured throughout the record add to that impact, clearly taking influence from specific jazz subgenres from the 1950s.  The performance of the collective in each performance puts the final touch to the recording.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make The Fifties: A Prism its own musically colorful recording.

More information on this and other titles from the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchesta with Wynton Marsalis is available online at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://jazz.org

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/jazzatlinconcenterorchestra

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://jazz.org

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/blueenginerecords

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/blueenginejazz

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

JLCO Earns Its Own Championship Title With Live Recording dedicated To KU’s Basketball Program

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

Late last year, Blue Engine Records announced it was going to open 2020 with a bang by releasing four new live recordings from The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.  Three full months into the year, the label has stuck to its busy schedule, releasing the group’s live recording of its performance of music from Wayne Shorter, and of Shermann Irby’s Inferno, as well as a presentation of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s timeless record Black Brown & Beige.  The label continued that packed slate of new recordings last week with the release of JLCO’s fourth live recording so far this yeear, Rock Chalk Suite.  Released March 20, the 63-minute recording is another wonderfully enjoyable performance from the collective.  It is a work that apparently will appeal to sports fans, too, thanks to its central concept, which will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements that make up the body of the recording add even more interest to its presentation, and will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production and mixing round out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is key in its own special way to the whole of Rock Chalk Suite.  All things considered, this latest live recording from JLCO is yet another one of this year’s top new live CDs.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ latest live recording Rock Chalk Suite is another impressive new live offering from the organization that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new live CDs.  That statement is supported in part by the concept at the heart of the recording.  As noted in information provided about the recording, its concept bases each of its 15 songs on one of the famous basketball players from none other than the University of Kansas.  That includes members of the men’s and women’s team.  One might immediately begin to scratch one’s head wondering how such a concept came to life.  The answer to that question is that the recording was meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the construction of the university’s Lied Center.  Given, the Lied center has never hosted KU basketball games, being a cultural arts center, but that aside, KU students, staff and alums will appreciate the very fact that this group recorded this entire performance in dedication to the university in so many facets.  Few if any music acts from any genre can say they have dedicated an entire recording – whether studio or live – to a college and its rich history.  To that end, this is really unique, and sets a solid foundation for the recording.

The foundation set by Rock Chalk Suite’s premise is strengthened by the arrangements that make up the body of the 15-song recording.  It is important to re-state here that each arrangement is meant to pay tribute to a specific member of KU’s basketball program throughout the years.  Figures, such as Paul Pierce, Jo Jo White and Bill Houghland are honored along with the likes of Mario Chalmers, Charlie B. Black and Lynette Woodard throughout the performance.  ‘C.B.’s Theme,’ which pays tribute to Black, is a wonderful classic 1960s style work that conjures thoughts of works from the likes of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Miles Davis Quintet and the Chet Baker Quartet.  That is evident through the horn arrangements, the dynamic changes and the subtleties in the work’s piano and percussion lines.  Considering the success that KU’s men’s basketball program enjoyed during his time as a member of the team, it makes sense that this song would be so light and upbeat. The light, bouncy approach to the song serves well to illustrate the happiness that must have flowed through each player and the university in whole during his time with the team.

In contrast to ‘C.B.’s Theme,’ ‘Third Quarter’ is a stark contrast.  The song pays tribute to KU and former NBA star Nick Collison.  This work is more reserved than ‘C.B.’s Theme’ and some of the recording’s other works.  It could be argued that maybe the title and vibe in the song are a reflection of how understated Collison’s career was.  He led the Jayhwks to two consecutive Final Four appearances during his career at the university.  He was the NCAA Player of the Year during the 2002-03 season; Big 12 Player of the Year during the same season and was a first-team All-American.  Those are some pretty hefty accolades, but he apparently never rose to the superstar level of some of his counterparts, such as Carmelo Anthony.  He did go on to play with the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics and Oklahoma City Thunder, but was the 12th overall pick in the NBA’s draft after his graduation from KU.  So yes, he was successful, not at the level of other NCAA standouts from KU and other schools.  Of course, this is all this critic’s interpretation, and could be wholly inaccurate.  So, it should not be taken as gospel.  Regardless, the fact of the matter remains that this song boasts its own share of entertainment with its combination of woodwinds, piano, light percussion and standup bass.  The arrangement will put anyone at ease.

‘The Ponderous Pachyderm of the Planks,’ which pays tribute to Clyde Lovellete, is another example of the importance of this performance’s arrangements.  It’s fitting that a song about Lovellette would basically call him a pachyderm.  He was a giant in many ways, physically and in his accomplishments.  Lovelette stood six-feet, nine-inches in height, which is very tall.  Given, elephants are much taller, but in comparison to most other plays of his day and present, he clearly was “as big as an elephant.”  His ability to make one-handed shots during his professional career draws images of someone his height almost taking huge steps down the court, a la an elephant, and making those shots.  Looking at his college career, he led the team to the 1952 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, earned MVP status and scored what was then a record 141 points along the way.  He was named first-team All-American twice during his college career, too.  As an added highlight, he also won gold with the USA Men’s Basketball team at the 1952 Summer Olympics, not long after leading the Jayhawks to the NCAA title.  He was the team’s leading scorer during the games.  Lovelette’s life after basketball was humble, finding him working as a farmer and Sheriff and even worked at a faith-based school helping at-risk youths.  Considering all of these accolades, it makes sense why the arrangement presents a certain swagger and bombast.  That energy is about as big as he was along with his career.  It’s just one more way in which the recording’s arrangements serve to show their importance to the whole of this presentation.  Between this arrangement, the others noted and the rest of the featured arrangements, each does its own part to properly honor KU’s program and its members.  When considered along with the very concept of joining sports and music in this fashion, the two elements make this record even more engaging and entertaining.  They are not the recording’s only key elements.  The recording’s production and mixing round out its most important elements.

The production and mixing that went into Rock Chalk Suite is just as impressive as that of JLCO’s past live recordings.  Whether the arrangements are upbeat or more reserved in their energies, whether they are more lively or subdued, each member of the orchestra has his/her performance expertly balanced with that of his/her fellow musicians.  The horns lead the way throughout the majority of the record, given, but the subtleties of the piano are there, too, as are those of the drums and percussion.  Every part gets its own attention, and in turn, each line is heard perfectly.  The end result is a presentation that is just as easy on the ears because of the content as for the content’s aesthetics.  Those behind that work are to be commended for their continued attention to every finer detail.  Keeping this in mind along with the value of the recording’s content and its foundation, all three elements join to make Rock Chalk Suite a work that is most certainly a slam dunk for sports fans, jazz aficionados and music lovers alike.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s latest live recording Rock Chalk Suite is a work that will appeal not just to jazz lovers, but to fans of college basketball — and specifically to fans of the Kansas Jayhawks – and to music lovers in general.  That is proven in the very concept that the recording is a tribute to a college basketball program.  That is unique to say the very least.  The arrangements do an applause-worthy job of paying tribute to some of the program’s most notable names.  The recording’s production and mixing put the finishing touch to the presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make this recording deserving of its own trophy.  More information on this and other titles from the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchesta with Wynton Marsalis is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jazzatlinconcenterorchestra

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blueenginerecords

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blueenginejazz

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

JLCO’s Performance Of Duke Ellington Orchestra’s ‘Black, Brown & Beige’ Is Jazz Gold

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

Blue Engine Records has been on a roll this year.  Two months into the still young year, the label has already released two more new live recordings from the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, continuing the ongoing series of recordings that it released last year.  That trend will continue next month when the label releases its latest JLCO recording Black, Brown & Beige.  Scheduled for release March 6, the nine-song recording is an important new release, as it presents the timeless recording from Duke Ellington and his orchestra, live in its entirety.  That presentation is just one of the items that makes the recording such an important new presentation from JLCO, and will be addressed shortly.  The orchestra’s performance of the recording adds even more engagement and entertainment to the recording’s presentation.  It will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production and mixing rounds out its most important elements.  When it is considered along with the recording’s presentation and the group’s performance thereof, the whole of the recording proves to be one of this year’s best and most important live recordings.

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra’s forthcoming live performance of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s timeless record Black, Brown & Beige is an important new offering from the group and from its label, Blue Engine Records.  That is due in part to its very presentation.  The presentation is so important because since Ellington and company originally debuted the performance in 1943 at Carnegie Hall, it rarely was performed live from that point on.  According to information presented about that history, after performing it at Carnegie Hall and at Rye High School in Westchester County, NY, Ellington and his orchestra never performed the opus in whole again.  Allegedly, Ellington said the reason for that was that he felt it was too long and that “too few people are familiar with the story” behind the recording.  The story in question behind the song is what is meant to be a unique African-American history.  Called by Marsalis, a recording that “sits alone in the history of Jazz,” few if any full presentations of this landmark composition have ever seen the light of day from Ellington and any other act.  To that end, having the 48-minute performance presented in whole for the first time in a very long time makes this recording quite valuable in itself.  It is just one part of what makes this presentation of Black, Brown & Beige so important and impressive.  The orchestra’s performance of the composition is key in its own right.

The orchestra’s performance of Brown, Black & Beige is important because it is that performance that does such a good job of helping to tell the story that Ellington originally intended to tell with the expansive work.  Brianna Thomas’ vocals on ‘Blues Theme Mauve,’ for instance goes such a long way toward exhibiting the life of the African-American during the early portion of the 20th century.  Her vocal delivery presents such pain that translates so well.  The third movement of the composition opens with the fully-energetic ‘Various Themes’ that shows in itself the changes that African-Americans were going through as America grew and changed.  The contrast of the song’s energetic opening and its more subdued second movement – those subtle horn and piano lines – does so much to show that change.  By comparison, the melancholy of ‘Come Sunday’ early on in the opus’ first movement evokes its own share of emotion, especially as it presents a very brief show of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.’  Violinist Eli Bishop’s performance adds to this work to add even more impact to the song and overall performance.  It’s just one more way in which the overall performance proves so pivotal to the whole of this presentation.  When that performance in whole is considered along with the record’s very presentation, that whole goes a long way to show why the recording is such a welcome addition to any jazz aficionado’s music library.  They are not the only key elements to examine, either.  The record’s production and mixing round out its most important elements.

The production and mixing that went into Black, Brown & Beige is so important to note because without that work, the end product would not even be worth consideration.  Considering that this is another live recording from JLCO, that work becomes even more important to note.  That is because the sound balance between the musicians and their impact within the given venue – in this case, the Rose Theater – has to be considered even more than sound balance in a studio setting.  Those behind the production and mixing are to be commended for their work just as much here as in JLCO’s previously released live recordings.  The horns and percussion are expertly balanced with one another, as are the woodwinds with the rest of the orchestra.  When Thomas’ vocals are added in during the very subtle ‘Blues Theme Mauve,’ her tone resonates so richly with the rest of the orchestra.  The drums that open the recording in ‘Work Song’ are just as controlled in their presentation against the rest of the orchestra, as another example of the payoff of the production and mixing.  That example, considered with the other examples noted here and so much more, it becomes clear that the time and effort that went into the recording’s production paid off and then some.  Keeping this in mind as one examines the record’s presentation and the group’s performance of said presentation, the whole of Black, Brown & Beige proves to be jazz gold.

Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis’ latest live recording Black, Brown & Beige is another enjoyable offering from the organization.  That is due in part to the fact that Ellington and his orchestra’s timeless work has so rarely been presented in full either in studio or in live setting.  This presentation is one of the very rare moments in which it has been presented in full since its 1943 debut at Carnegie Hall.  That alone makes it an important recording.  The performance of the opus by the collective fully pays tribute to the original composition and those who performed said work.  The production and mixing that went into creating the final product puts the finishing touch to the recording.  Each item noted here makes the recording well worth owning by any jazz aficionado.  All things considered, they make Black, Brown & Beige jazz gold.  It will be available March 6 through Blue Engine Records.  More information on this and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blueenginerecords

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blueenginejazz

 

 

 

More information on JLCO is available along with all of its latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jazzatlincolncenterorchestra

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

JLCO, Irby’s ‘Inferno’ Burns In The Best Way Possible

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

When Dante Alighieri published his timeless epic poem “Divine Comedy” in the 14th Century, that work became the source of so many fire and brimstone sermons by preachers across the Christian world.  That is due especially to the poem’s opening segment, “Inferno.”  It has also been the source for so many moviemakers and even musical artists and composers.  The thing is that each of the adaptations of Alighieri’s epic poem have been equally foreboding.  Enter the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.  The group’s recently released album, helmed by one of its own – Sherman Irby – is a take on Alighieri’s poem that is unlike any adaptation of that poem that has ever been crafted.  That is exhibited through the live recording’s overall arrangement, which will be addressed shortly.  The group’s very performance of the presentation is just as noteworthy as the presentation of the songs.  It will be discussed a little later.  The recording’s production adds the finishing touch to the recording’s presentation.  It will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is critical in its own right to the whole of Inferno.  All things considered, they make Inferno yet another of the year’s top new live CDs, along with the group’s prior release, The Music of Wayne Shorter.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra [JLCO] with Wynton Marsalis’ latest live recording Inferno is one of the most intriguing adaptations of the opener from Dante Alighieri’s epic poem that has ever been crafted since its initial publication in the 14th century.  That is due in part to the recording’s arrangement, which forms its foundation.  While Alighieri’s literary work is a dark, foreboding presentation that has been the fodder for so much fire and brimstone in the Christian world, the group’s work featured here is anything but that dark, foreboding story.  Rather, it is a much more upbeat presentation that, despite that more positive feeling and sound, still manages to work with Alighieri’s original work.  ‘Overture: Lost,’ the recording’s opener, works in line with the two Cantos that open “Inferno.”  Audiences can almost see Virgil talking with Alighieri about helping him on his journey.  ‘House of Unbelievers,’ the performance’s second entry, opens with a full horn flourish and maintains a certain energy throughout its five-minute-plus run time even in its more subtle moments.  One could argue that said song is the beginning of Dante’s journey through the nine circles.  ‘Hunger’ perhaps echoes perhaps Dante’s journey through the third circle, “Gluttony.”  As the performance progresses, audiences can just as easily make the connection between specific portions of “Inferno” and Alighieri’s work.  Again, at no point does the performance present any sense of foreboding, completely unlike the poetic work.  This leads into the second of the recording’s most notable elements, the organization’s performance of the show.

The performance of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s members throughout the course of this recording is what makes each portion of this musical tale so engaging.  The subtleties in the performance of ‘The City of Dis’ is just one example of the importance of the musicians’ performances.  The Middle Eastern sounds presented by the group creates a certain “mysterious” feel in the song that ensures listeners’ engagement.  The oftentimes manic energy in ‘Beware The Wolf and the Serpent’ does a good job of musically illustrating Dante’s emotions in Canto XXV.  This is just one more point at which the musicians’ collective talents show the importance of their work in this performance.  Between the moments noted here and the rest of the performances throughout, it goes without saying that the group’s collective performances add so much depth to the overall presentation of Inferno.

For all of the depth and substance that the musicians’ performances add to Inferno, one would be remiss to ignore the work put into the recording’s production.  Keeping in mind that this, like JLCO’s other recordings, is a live production, much time and effort had to be put in to complete the presentation.  The work put in by all concerned made the final production just as enjoyable for its aesthetics as for its content.  At no point do any of the musicians overpower one another.  Each channel is balanced expertly with the others throughout.  The final result is a work that sounds good and is good all the way around.  Keeping this in mind, Inferno proves itself to be another positive live offering from JLCO that audiophiles and bibliophiles alike will enjoy.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s new live recording Inferno is another positive addition to this year’s list of top new live CDs.  It is a unique presentation that is unlike any adaptation of Dante’s “Inferno” that has ever been released.  It takes the timeless work and gives it a whole new life and identity through its compositions.  The group’s musicianship builds on the foundation formed through the compositions, adding to the recording’s engagement and entertainment.  The recording’s production keeps listeners engaged as it balanced every single line throughout the concert.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Inferno a work that jazz fans will enjoy and a work that is another of the year’s top new live CDs.  More information on this and other titles from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jazzatlincolncenter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

JLCO’s Latest Live Recording Is A Musical Time Capsule That Jazz Fans Everywhere Will Enjoy Opening

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

Wayne Short has done it all, it seems.  Over the course of his now 86 years on this planet, the legendary saxophonist has released 26 albums, earned no less than 19 awards and worked with some of the music industry’s most respected figures, such as Miles Davis to Weather Report to Carlos Santana and Herbie Hancock.  In May 2015, he added to that already long list of famed names even more when he joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis to perform some of his most beloved songs live. That performance, recorded during a three night stint at the Rose Theater in New York City, will be released Jan. 30 through Blue Engine Records in a new two-disc set.  The archived live recording is a fitting tribute to Shorter and the music that he has crafted over the course of his decades-long career.  That is proven in part through the recording’s featured set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The collective’s performance of said set list adds even more appeal to the recording and will be addressed later.  The recording’s production and mixing round out its most important elements.  They will also be addressed later.  When they are considered along with the recording’s set list and the performance thereof, the whole makes the recording in whole an easy, early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new live recordings.

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis’ latest live recording The Music of Wayne Shorter is a work that will appeal to Shorter’s fans just as much as it will to fans of the JLCO and jazz aficionados in general.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s set list.  The 10-song set list pulls from Shorter’s solo career as well as his work with other acts.  Among the acts that he recorded with featured here are Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and Wynton Kelly.  The set list reaches as far back as 1961 and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ album Witch Doctor and as recently as 1985 with his solo album Atlantis.  Also featured in the recording’s set list are works from Shorter’s 1964 album Night Dreamer (‘Armageddon) and his 1967 album Adam’s Apple (‘Teru’).  Shorter’s work with Wynton Kelly shows up in the group’s performance of ‘Mama G,’ which was featured on Kelly’s 1959 album Kelly Great.  Shorter’s work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers gets the most representation in this recording, with three nods, including the already noted album Witch Doctor and its song ‘Lost and Found.’  Also featured in the recording from Shorter’s time with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers are the songs ‘Contemplation’ (taken from Buhaina’s Delight – 1963) and ‘Hammerhead’ (taken from  Free For All – 1964).  All things considered, the recording’s featured set list pulls from some of the strongest moments in Shorter’s expansive and successful career.  This gives audiences but a brief look into his career, but at the same time, a strong starting point for those who may be less familiar with his catalog.  For Shorter’s more seasoned audiences, it proves to be just as entertaining on its own merits.  Keeping all of this in mind, the set list featured in The Music of Wayne Shorter creates a strong foundation for the recording.  The performance by Shorter and company in this recording builds on that foundation, making the recording that much more appealing.

The performance of the set list featured in this recording is another reminder of why not only Shorter, but the LCJO, too is so respected.  From start to finish, the musicians put on a collective performance that gives audiences so much to enjoy.  The set’s opener ‘Yes Or No’ is just one example of the group’s ability to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  The song stays mostly true to Shorter’s original work in its arrangement here.  The only difference between the original six-and-a-half-minute opus and this work is that this take on the song is extended out a bit, but about four minutes.  There is more improving taking place throughout.  The thing is that every bit of that noted improving works.  Shorter works wonders alongside the group’s drummer, who works just as expertly as he takes on legendary drummer Elvin Jones’ timekeeping here.  The pianist who takes on McCoy Tyner’s piano line makes that line more subtle this time out than in the original work.  What’s interesting to note is that despite this, that increased subtlety still makes the song work in its own right.  Meanwhile, Shorter’s work on the sax is just as powerful and professional as ever here.  He shows that even at his age at the time – he would have been between 81 and 82 at the time of the performance —   he still was just as talented as he had been in his younger days.  That is a testament to him and his abilities.  When that is considered along with the talent of the JLCO’s musicians, the whole of the group’s performance makes that song just one example of why the orchestra’s performance here is crucial to the recording’s impact.

‘Contemplation,’ which comes a little later in the recording’s run, is yet another example of the importance of the group’s performance to the recording.  Yet again, audiences get in this performance, a full tribute to the song’s source material (so to speak).  Shorter’s work on the sax in this gentle, bluesy work is just as engaging as it was so many decades ago.  The fluidity of the  notes as the song progresses from its more reserved opening bars to its slightly more upbeat moments is just as solid as in the original work that Shorter recorded with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.  The time keeping and the piano work here would make Blakey and pianist Cedar Walton proud.  Taking into account those lines and the rest of the song’s elements, the whole of the song’s arrangement and performance here proves just as enjoyable as the song’s source material.  It truly pays tribute to not only Shorter, but his then fellow musicians while also offering just as much for listeners to enjoy.  It’s as if a musical time capsule has been opened after so many decades and the music has just flowed so freely from that container.  That’s how enjoyable this performance is, just like with the recording’s other performances.

Much the same can be said of the group’s performance of ‘Teru’ that has been noted of the group’s other performances in this recording.  The slow, gentle composition is just as powerful and moving in this 2015 recording as it was way back when. Shorter’s performance alone evokes so much emotion as it pulls listeners into the song.  Meanwhile, the JLCO members add their own subtleties to the whole, making that original work that much more powerful, and easily one of the record’s highest points.  It really shows in the end, that less really is more.  When this is considered along with the rest of the recording’s performances, the whole of said performances makes the group’s overall performance just as powerful and important to the recording as the show’s set list.

Keeping in mind the importance of the group’s performance featured in this recording, the natural progression from there is to address the recording’s collective mixing and production.  Throughout the course of the recording, the mixing and production proves expert in its own right.  Every musician’s part is expertly balanced with one another in every song.  The result is a performance that perfectly captures the essence of Shorter’s work while also once again putting on full display, the talents of the members of the JLCO.  The only downside to the whole of the production comes at the end of the performance when the orchestra’s members are introduced.  It would have been nice to have known who the musicians were, not having liner notes to work with.  However, those introductions have to be played time and again throughout the work in order to catch each name.  It would have been nice to have had Marsalis (or whomever conducted the introductions) mic’d up so that audiences could hear that part.  While this does detract slightly from the production and mixing, it is hardly enough to make this recording unlistenable.  To that end, the production and mixing in this recording is just as strong as the recording’s featured set list and the orchestra’s performance thereof.  Keeping all of this in mind, everything noted here comes together to make The Music of Wayne Shorter a strong start to this year’s field of new live recordings and just as strong a start to the new year for Blue Engine Records and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s new live recording The Music of Wayne Shorter is another positive new live offering from the famed musical collective.  It is a work that will appeal just as much to Shorter’s longtime fans as it will to jazz aficionados and those of the groups with whom Shorter has performed.  That is due in part to the set list, which despite running only 10 songs, is still expansive in its own right.  The group’s performance of said set list adds even more interest and appeal to the recording.  The same can be said of the recording’s production and mixing.  Each item noted is key in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make the recording the first of this year’s top new live recordings.  More information on this and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jazzatlincolncenter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

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Hannah Williams & The Affirmations’ New LP Towers Over Its Counterparts In Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Albums List

Courtesy: Record Kicks

As the year finally winds down its final days, the attention for many companies turns to the new year and the new crop of records already planned for the first quarter of the year.  As attentions turn to thew new year and its new albums, attention should also remain on the current year’s albums.  This year produced so many standout records from across the musical universe.  From rock and hard rock to pop to neo-soul and more, the offerings presented to audiences were many to say the very least.  Keeping that in mind, any critic will agree assembling the list of the year’s top new albums overall is a chore, but one that must happen.  This year’s top new albums are mainstream and independent alike, at least on this critic’s list.

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations easily made their way onto this critic’s final musical year-ender list with their new album 50 Foot Woman as did Slipknot, Sara Potenza and even Joel Ross.  Again, this list was anything but easy to assemble, but it did finally come together.  It is presented here complete with five honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2019 Top 10 New Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. Hannah Williams & The Affirmations — 50 Foot Woman
  2. Devin Townsend — Empath
  3. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
  4. Joel Ross — Kingmaker
  5. Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz & Art
  6. Lakou Mizik — HaitiaNola
  7. Diana Panton — Cheerful Little Earful
  8. Am I Dead Yet? — Am I Dead Yet?
  9. Carlos Santana — Africa Speaks
  10. The Magpie Salute — Highwater II
  11. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Signs
  12. The Sh-Booms — The Blurred Odyssey
  13. Sara Potenza — Sara Potenza
  14. Wargirl — Wargirl
  15. Hootie & The Blowfish — Imperfect Circle

 

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New Wayne Shorter Performance Among Four New Albums Due Out In 2020 From Blue Engine Records

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

Blue Engine Records will release open the new year with four new jazz recordings.

The label will open the new year with the release of Inferno, the new album from saxophonist Sherman Irby.  The album was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s poem by the same name.  It is scheduled for release Jan. 17.

The Music of Wayne Shorter follows the release of Inferno on Jan. 31 from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis.  The 10-track recording finds the famed saxophonist performing some of his greatest songs alongside the JLO, such as ‘Yes Or No,’ ‘Endangered Species’ and Teru.’  The album was recorded live in 2015 at the Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Pre-orders for The Music of Wayne Shorter open Dec. 27. Marsalis spoke highly of Shorter in a recent interview about the forthcoming release.

“Wayne Shorter is at the highest level of our music — You can’t get any higher than him,” he said.  “Everybody strives to have a personal sound.  Wayne’s sound is definitive.”

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra takes on the music of legendary composer/musician Duke Ellington Feb. 28 with the release of Black, Brown and Beige.  The album’s release marks the first time that Marsals has taken on Ellington’s famed musical masterpiece.

As spring nears, Blue Engine will release one more album to open the first part of the year. The Ever Funky Lowdown is scheduled for release March 6.  The record, which is meant to be a commentary on modern culture and society, features narration by famed actor Wendell Pierce and guest vocals from Camille Thurman, Ashley Pezotti and Christie Dashiell.

More information on these and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online now at:

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blueenginerecords

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blueenginejazz

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Jazz At Lincoln Center’s ‘Jazz And Art’ Paints The Year’s Best New Musical Picture Of 2019’s New Jazz, Blues Albums

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

The worlds of jazz and blues are intertwined with one another and have been for ages.  From their earliest days to the modern era, a close listen to records from the two genres exhibits this connection.  Keeping that in mind, it makes sense to combine the two genres when considering year-ender lists.That is just what this critic has done for years and is doing again this year.  This year’s list of top new jazz and blues albums touches on lots of different artists and groups.  The Jazz AT Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis has released a handful of noteworthy albums this year, as has World Music Network.  Blues artists Keb Mo and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are also featured on this year’s list with their new albums.  The same can be said of Diana Panton, as her new album is featured in this list, too.

As with every list this critic produces, it features the year’s top 10 new albums and five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New Jazz & Blues albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ & BLUES ALBUMS

  1. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz & Art
  2. Joel Ross — Kingmaker
  3. Diana Panton — Cheerful Little Earful
  4. World Music Network — The Rough Guide To Blues Divas
  5. Mark Clive De-Lowe — Heritage
  6. Mark Clive De-Lowe — Heritage II
  7. Keb Mo — Oklahoma
  8. Pancho Sanchez — Trane’s Delight
  9. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Signs
  10. Miles Davis — Rubberband
  11. John Coletrane — Coletrane ’58The Prestige Sessions
  12. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Big Band Holidays II
  13. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz For Kids
  14. World Music Network — The Rough Guide To World Jazz
  15. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band — The Traveler

 

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Adults Will Enjoy ‘Jazz For Kids’ As Much As Children

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records/Jazz AT Lincoln Center

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis has been in the headlines quite a bit this year, having released two new compilation albums – one a group of songs that interpret well-known paintings and the other a collection of holiday music performances.  Just last week, the group displayed its wide-ranging talents even more when it released its new family music album Jazz For Kids.  The 10-song record is yet another enjoyable offering from the musical collective in that it shows jazz and family music may not be as far from one another as one might think and that in fact both genres can be enjoyed just as much by one age group as the other.  The compilation’s opener, ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ goes a long way to support that statement.  The beloved Muppets tune ‘Mah Na Mah Na’ does just as much as the album’s opener to achieve that success.  The same can be said of ‘I Like To Take My Time.’  All three songs exemplify in their own way why this record is such an enjoyable work for listeners of all ages.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the record’s offerings, the whole becomes a record that is one more of this year’s top new Jazz & Blues albums as well as one more of the year’s top new Family Music albums.

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis has produced in its new compilation Jazz For Kids, a record that is an enjoyable work not just for kids, but for older listeners as well.  It shows that the worlds of family music and jazz may not be as far from one another as many listeners might think.  The record’s opener, ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ is just one of the songs featured in this record that supports the noted statements.  The song opens with members of the group using muted trumpets to mimic – almost perfectly – the sound of sheep calling.  That brief introduction gives way to a catchy, bluesy arrangement featuring a walking bass line that forms the arrangement’s backbone, which is itself complimented by a piano line, trumpet, occasional saxophone solo and drums.  What is so interesting in this simple grouping of musicians is that while the song is meant to be a new take on a classic children’s tune, the song develops its very own identity through its arrangement.  The end result is a song that stands just as strongly on its own musical merits as it does on the fact that it is a cover of a kids’ tune.  This kind of approach, is of course nothing new for the Jazz At Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.  The group has prided itself on using this approach many times before.  It proved successful every time previously and just as much here as in the past.  While the group’s take on ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ proves a strong opener for Jazz For Kids, it is just one of the songs that serves to show what makes this record such a joy.  The group’s arrangement of ‘Mah Na Mah Na’ does just as much as its take on ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ to make that case.

The presentation of ‘Mah Na Mah Na’ here pays such wonderful tribute to its source material in its arrangement, even going so far as to include one member of the group singing the monster’s part early on.  That brief moment is the song’s only moment that features any vocals.  The rest of the song is presented musically, and so well at that.  What makes the arrangement so really enjoyable is the music diversity displayed throughout the arrangement.  The drums, brass and woodwinds present a distinct jazz swing while the violin incorporated into the song adds a touch of bluegrass with its own jazz tinge.  The whole of the arrangement is what is – in this critic’s ears – the record’s most notable song.  It is just a nice, bouncy, fun song that will bring out the nostalgia in older listeners while introducing a whole new generation of listeners to a great, timeless work.  It is just one more of the album’s most notable moments.  ‘I Like To Take My Time’ is yet another song that shows what makes Jazz For Kids a work that will appeal just as much to kids as t will adults.

‘I Like To Take My Time’ is a cover of the song from the beloved PBS series Mister Rogers Neighborhood.  That song in itself had its own light, jazzy feel, as did many songs featured in the timeless, irreplaceable series.  So it should come as no surprise that it would be featured in this record.  The arrangement here is more upbeat than that featured in Mister Rogers Neighborhood.  It does retain some of the reserved nature of its source material, but by and large, it develops its own identity with its brass flourishes, drum fills and woodwind melodies.  Fred Rogers’ original composition barely topped the one-minute mark, but this arrangement, with all of its elements, clocks in at almost four-and-a-half-minutes.  The result is a work that is an enjoyable work in its own right that is also a fitting tribute to the memory and legacy of Fred Rogers.  When it is considered alongside the other songs discussed here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the songs makes Jazz For Kids a work that is aimed at kids, but is just as appealing for grown-ups as their younger counterparts.

The Jazz At Lincoln Center With Wynton Marsalis’ new family music album Jazz For Kids is a work that may be aimed at kids, but will appeal just as much to adults as it will to children.  That is due to arrangements which take the children’s classics and give them a whole new jazz identity.  All three of the songs examined serve to prove that statement.  The other songs that make up the rest of the record could just as easily be cited in making that statement.  When those songs and the songs discussed here are considered together, the whole of the songs presents Jazz For Kids to be a record that is one of the best new family music albums of this year and one of the year’s top new jazz & blues records.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.jazzatlincolncenterorchestra.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jazzatlincolncenterorchestra

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

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‘Jazz And Art’ Paints A Wonderful Picture For Jazz, Art Lovers Alike

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

The realms of visual and musical arts are two completely different worlds.  One creates pleasure for audiences through the eyes and the other does so through the ears.  That being the case, it makes sense that attempts by anyone to bridge the two mediums have been rare throughout each realm’s modern history.  Early last month though, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra built that bridge with their new studio recording.  Aptly titled Jazz And Art, the 10-song album presents a series of compositions that are inspired by a select group of visual artists and their works.  That concept builds the foundation for the 55-minute recording and will be addressed more in-depth shortly.  The arrangements themselves are just as noteworthy as the album’s concept, and will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make this new effort from the group a piece that will appeal to fans of the musical and visual arts alike.

Jazz And Art, the latest full-length studio recording from Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, is a work that will unite lovers of the visual and musical arts.  That is due in part to the concept at the heart of the album.  The concept behind the album is the union of the two realms through the creation of songs inspired by a group of visual artists and their works.  It sounds like a bit of a stretch, but is in fact a very smart move.  By creating compositions inspired by artists and their works, the record serves as an entrance into the world of visual art for those who might otherwise have never taken the first step into that world.  It will inspire those listeners to conduct their own research into the artists and paintings in question, which can in turn potentially lead to a new interest and discussions on the noted artists and their works.  The same applies to art lovers who perhaps have never ventured into the jazz realm, opting instead to take in the landscapes painted with brushes instead of with instruments.  Regardless of whether it influences one side, the other, or both, the concept of marrying musical and visual art proves to be a smart move, considering the gap that exists between the two worlds.  It creates a strong foundation for this record.  Building on that foundation and making it stronger are the arrangements themselves.

The arrangements that make up the body of Jazz And Art are important to note in part because of their diversity.  From start to end, listeners get something different with each composition.  There are blues elements featured in the album, as well as big band influences and even some African influence.  The whole thing opens with a trio of works influenced by artist Stuart Davis.  Interestingly enough, Davis was himself inspired by jazz in creating his works during the 1940s and 50s.  All three works are fitting considering the paintings from which they rose.  ‘Mellow Pad,’ with its varied instrumentation – muted trumpet, drums, piano and saxophones – is just as active even in its subtleties as Davis’ painting.  ‘Garage Lights,’ meanwhile presents a rather blues-gospel tinged composition that, when set alongside Davis’ painting, conjures thoughts of perhaps New Orleans.  That is because New Orleans is itself a port town and is steeped in blues and gospel influences.  ‘New York’ meanwhile does its own positive job of capturing the essence of Davis’ painting by the same name.  The light piano line and time keeping echo quite well, the energy exuded in the painting’s colors and lines.  What’s more, it also echoes (on a completely different note) the works of the one and only Vince Guaraldi at times and even Henry Mancini with its horns.  The compositions influenced by painter Winslow Homer (who was known largely for his marine landscapes) offer their own intrigue.  ‘Homer’s Blues’ conjures thoughts of certain songs from the West Side Story soundtrack with its hard bop sound.  The painting that the song’s energy seems to echo is “Snap The Whip,” which he painted in 1872.  The painting features a group of young boys playing a game, aptly titled “Snap The Whip.”  The happiness on the boys’ faces embodies the painting’s purpose of showing the possibilities of the future at the time and the happiness that those thoughts brought about.  This is all of course just this critic’s interpretation.  Obviously jazz was not a thing at all in the late 1800s, but, the positive energy in the painting and the song seem to work well together.  Meanwhile, “Homer’s Waltz” mirrors so many of his noted marine landscapes with its gentle, reserved melody.  ‘Air Earth Fire Water,’ with its cross of Afro-Cuban instrumentation and American jazz elements does well to illustrate the story of the Orishas, which are – in much African lore – emissaries of God.  According to the lore, the Orishas control the forces of nature and everything that mankind does.  Many paintings of the Orishas have been painted over the years, depicting each being and what its role.  It stands out quite starkly from its fellow arrangements just as much as they do from one another.  All of the arrangements noted here and the rest of the record’s works come together to paint their own vivid picture that when considered along with the record’s approach, makes the album that much more enjoyable for audiences.  It is not the last of the album’s most notable elements.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into Jazz And Art is important to note because of how much is going on within each of the songs.  ‘Air, Earth, Fire, Water’ is just one of the songs that serves to illustrate this aspect.  The multitudinous instrumentation here means that there is quite a bit going on, but those behind the boards managed to capture it all.  The Afro-Cuban drums, the horns and every other instrument gets its own time in the limelight, with no one part overpowering the other at any point in the song.  ‘Blue Twirl,’ which comes almost halfway through the record’s run, is another example of the importance of the album’s production.  There is just as much going on here as in the album’s other entries, but in a completely unexpected fashion.  There are so many dynamic changes, as well as elements and moods throughout.  Again, those behind the glass managed to capture the full essence of that diversity.  The end result is a song that is one of the album’s best works.  Simply put, it is clear in listening through each of the album’s 10 songs that much time and effort was put into balancing each song’s arrangement and related instrumentation for the maximum impact.  The result of that work is a record that,  from start to end, is just as impressive for its production as for its concept and varied arrangements.  All things considered, they make Jazz And Art a work that will certainly appeal just as much to fans of the jazz world as to art lovers.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s new album Jazz And Art,  recorded with Wynton Marsalis is a strong new effort from the organization.  That is due in part to its approach.  The album merges the worlds of musical and visual arts for a whole that will serve as an educational tool as well as an entertainment tool.  The varied arrangements do just as much to make the album engaging and entertaining as its very concept.  The record’s production shows a lot of time and effort was put in to make sure the finished production would appeal to every listener.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Jazz And Art its own wonderful musical  work of art that will appeal to listeners from the worlds of Jazz and art.  More information on Jazz And Art is available online now along with all of the latest news from the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jazzatlincolncenterorchestra

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.