16 August 2023


It was a last minute thing, but how glad I was to have got there.  The Snow Centre ran an open rehearsal of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for students and some media.   I was welcomed as media so got to chat with trombonist Vincent Gardner who, it turns out, is a frequent visitor to Australia, although not previously to Canberra.  There were ABC TV interviews that we could listen in on.  Eric Ajaye was there and had interviewed WM for Eric's ABC Jazz broadcast next week.  Eric told me of this; it sounds a doozy to hear.  I'd heard WM on 7.30 with Laura Tingle the night before and he was inspirational in his replies: broad, incisive, specific, informed.  One answer particularly floored me with the musical awareness he imparted.  That's not unexpected of course, but it's not so common on TV interviews: sadly our pollies and some others have trained us to expect so little.  What little I heard was similarly incisive on this day.  Gradually the band came on stage for the rehearsal, very casually dressed.  I'd been listening to bassist Carlos Henriquez warming up in a side room, bowing arpeggiations and moving them chromatically, then on stage and some pizz practice.  The players on stage were casual and jokey.  Then all were there and we heard some run-throughs.  As I remember, first up a medium swing with a lovely but fairly straightforward bass solo, tight and comfy as!  Then a medley of various latin styles finishing with a few bars of early jazz.  Then a slow swing, perhaps Ellington, again so, so sweet and apt.  Maybe this was the one with the lovely WM solo.  All this was wonderful dynamics, instrumental colours, inventive solos and the like.  Then something more challenging, modern, with complex counts, faster, with an up 8-feel and period sounds amongst a modern vibe.  I wondered if this might be from his orchestral writings: they are playing WM's All rise with the SSO and MSO on this tour and it felt somewhat like this.  I got to chat with a few of the local jazz heads who attended and generally left buzzing, hugely impressed and hanging out for the gig on Friday.  A bit of authentic NYC is touching Canberra this week.

Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra played an open rehearsal at the Snow Centre at Canberra Grammar School.  Wynton Marsalis and Vincent Gardner (trombone) were interviewed by media.  The bottom ender was Carlos Henriquez (bass).

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