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.

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

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

 

 

Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra’s New Family Music Album “Directs” The Way In This Year’s Top Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records/Jazz AT Lincoln Center

Family Music, otherwise known to most audiences as children’s music, is one of the most underrated genres in the musical universe.  The genre often-times gets a very bad reputation due to stereotypes created by audiences who are less educated than others about said genre.  Those who are more educated know that the world of Family Music offers perhaps more variety and originality than any mainstream genre.  The variety of albums released in this year’s field of Family Music albums clearly supports that statement.  From the Lincoln Center Orchestra performing its own surprisingly enjoyable takes on classic children’s songs, to the distinct presentation of Paul Winter Consort to even a Backstreet Boy’s own unique Family Music debut, this year’s field of new Family Music records has proven once again that said genre deserves far more respect than it gets.  That is why Phil’s Picks does its best each year to delve into that genre.

The Lincoln Center Orchestra tops this year’s list of new Family Music albums with its new recording Jazz For Kids.  It is just one of the interesting releases this year that the whole family will enjoy.  The Paul Winter Consort’s latest album can be considered not only Family Music, but possibly even World Music in its own right.  Former Backstreet Boy Howie D. offered one more of the year’s biggest surprises with his debut Family Music album, making it worthy in its own right on addition to this year’s list of top new Family Music albums.  It is joined by many others.  In fact, the list features the 10 top new Family Music albums along with five honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles.  noting again the variety of content featured across the Family Music genre, it made arranging this list anything but easy, but the final list here is that final choice.  Without any further ado here is this year’s Phil’s Picks Top 10 Family Music Albums.

 

PHIL’ PICKS 2019 TOP 10 FAMILY MUSIC ALBUMS

  1. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis — Jazz For Kids
  2. Thank You, Mr. Rogers — Music & Memories
  3. Diana Panton — A Cheerful Little Earful
  4. Paul Winter Consort & Friends — Everybody Under The SunVoices of Solstice — Volume 1
  5. The Shazzbots — Light Speed
  6. Howie D. — Which One Am I?
  7. Dog on Fleas — I’m An Optimist
  8. Johnette Downing with Scott Billington — Swamp Romp
  9. Moozika! — Moove to the Mouzika
  10. Sharon & Bram: Sharon & Bram and Friends
  11. Parker & Alexander — All Of UsBible Songs For Everyone
  12. Jesse Jukebox — Awesome
  13. The Laurie Berkner Band — Waiting for the Elevator
  14. Camille Harris — Baby on the Subway
  15. Again Again — Listen Love Repeat

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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

 

 

 

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

Jazz, Holiday Music Lovers Alike Will Enjoy ‘Big Band Holidays II”

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

The holiday season is officially here, and while Christmas is still more than two months away, many people are (wisely) already starting to make their plans as to where and how to spend the big day and the days leading up to said day.  Blue Engine Records will help revelers get into the holiday spirit later this month with the release of the new Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis Christmas music compilation, Big Band Holidays II.  Set for release Oct. 25, this 11 song compilation of live performances from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will come almost four years after the release of its predecessor.  It stands out from that record, and other holiday music offerings that will soon hit store shelves and digital retailers in part because of its featured songs.  This will be addressed shortly.  The performances of said songs plays into the compilation’s presentation just as much as the songs themselves.  They will be addressed a little later.  The compilation’s collective mixing and production round play their own crucial collective role to the whole of the presentation, too.  They will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the overall presentation of Big Band Holidays II.  All things considered, they make the recording a work that is in its own way, a welcome presentation that Christmas and Christmas music lovers appreciate.

Music is one of the most important parts of the holidays when it comes to setting the mood for gatherings of family and friends.  The problem is that it is so difficult to find holiday music compilations that stand out from the masses each year.  Thankfully, Blue Engine Records will release later this month, a compilation that actually does stand out in the form of Big Band Holidays II.  The latest holiday music offering from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, this collection of live holiday performances stands out in part because of its featured songs.  While the recording does feature some holiday standards, such as ‘We Three Kings,’ ‘Silver Bells’ and ‘Silent Night,’ it also features just as many (if not more) songs that are far less familiar and common on any other act’s holiday music compilations.  ‘Brazilian Sleigh Bells’ is definitely not something that American audiences can expect to find from holiday music recordings from other big bands.  The same can be said of ‘Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow,’ ‘Cool Yule’ and ‘(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag’ as well as ‘What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swinging).’  ‘Rise Up, Shepherd, And Follow’ might show up on holiday collections from perhaps  the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but otherwise, it is not something that most listeners can expect to find in holiday music collections from most popular music artists and acts.  Keeping that in mind, listeners looking for some kind of diversity for their holiday music settings will appreciate just that from this recording.  The familiar tunes are there, but so are pieces that are less familiar and commonplace.  That in itself forms a strong foundation for this recording.  It is just one of the items that makes the compilation so enjoyable.  The performances of the recording’s songs add their own interest to the record.

The performances of this recording’s featured songs did not come from just one performance of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.  They were taken from performances that the organization conducted between 2015 and 2018.  That means that listeners get not just one performance from one concert, but various snippets of the group’s live show from different points in time.  That is just the start of why the performances are so important to the recording.  The actual performances themselves play their own key part in its whole.  Veronica Swift’s vocal performance couples with the performance of the orchestra on ‘Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag’ is like something right out of the big band era.  Swift’s presence is completely engaging and entertaining, conjuring thoughts of great big band singers, such as Helen Forrest, Martha Tilton and Bea Wain.  The energy in her performance, coupled with that of the orchestra’s members, makes this performance feel like a gem long locked in some time capsule way back in the golden age of the big band and finally released after all these decades.  That is the power of the group’s performance here.  Much the same can be said of fellow singer Catherine Russel’s work with the group on ‘What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swinging).’  The group’s bluesy take of ‘Silent Night,’ which features vocals from Denzel Sinclair and Audrey Shakir is yet another example of the importance of this recording’s performances.  Composer Victor Goines’ take on the holiday standard gives the typically very somber song a whole new identity and life that is so welcome because it is so unexpected.  Rather than taking the usual noted tone, Goines opted for a more bluesy-mid-tempo arrangement that will leave any listener tapping his or her toes.  The group’s take on ‘Rise up, Shepherd, And Follow’ gives even that standard its own identity, moving it more in the direction of an Andrew Lloyd Weber type work than the more solemn vibe that it might have in a church setting.  At the same time, it boasts the band’s own jazz sensibility, giving it that much more of a unique identity.  There are no vocals here to accompany the group; just the musicians.  Even with that in mind, the song stands out because the performance is so unique both in comparison to other arrangements of the song and to the other performances featured in this collection.  It’s just one more way in which the performances featured in the recording stand out.  One could just as easily cite the other noted performances in showing why they are so important to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, the performances of this recording’s featured songs build on the foundation formed by the songs and make the recording that much more interesting.

While the songs and performances featured in Big Band Holidays II are both critical in their own way to the whole of the recording, they are just a portion of what makes the recording stand out.  Its collective mixing and production adds even more enjoyment to its whole.  As was already noted here, the 11 songs that make up the body of the compilation were pulled from performances put on by the orchestra between 2015 and 2018.  In other words, each performance was in a different setting.  The work on-site and in post is to be commended, as each performance expertly captures the live setting.  The instrumentalists and the vocalists are balanced meticulously.  The transitions from one performance to the next are seamless with the fade-outs.  On the surface, this might not seem important, but in the bigger picture of things, it is very important.  That is because despite being only available on CD and digital, the collection leaves listeners feeling just as fulfilled as if they were taking in the performances on DVD and/or Blu-ray.  This is important to note because concerts are typically more worth taking in when they are presented on full audiovisual presentations than just audio-only presentations.  Yet here in this case, the audio-only presentation is just as enjoyable as any full audiovisual experience.  To that end, the work of those behind the scenes proves just as applause-worthy as the work of the performers.  When the work of all involved is considered together, it makes Big Band Holidays II a wonderful musical backdrop for any holiday gathering.

The forthcoming holiday collection Big Band Holidays II from the Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis is a presentation that will appeal to anyone looking for some variety for their holiday gatherings this and every year.  It is a presentation that is a gift for listeners in its own right.  That is proven in part, as discussed, by its featured songs.  The performances of said songs play their own part to the recording’s whole.  The collective mixing and production of the recording is just as important to its whole as the performances and songs.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Big Band Holidays II a must have for anyone looking for a new musical setting for their holiday gatherings.  More information on this and other titles from the Jazz & Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis is available online now 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.

‘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

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

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