“Our concerts and tours demonstrate how people come to jazz for transformative experiences,” says Marsalis in a news release for the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2023-24 season.
A nine-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, composer and jazz ambassador, Marsalis and the JLCO perform Friday at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe.
A stellar 15-piece ensemble of instrumentalists, composers and arrangers under the direction of Managing and Artistic Director Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs a dizzying variety of styles and genres that span the entirety of jazz.
“We celebrate the masters, whose music, philosophy and spirit of mentorship continue to influence everything we do as an organization,” adds Marsalis. “And we create opportunities for you to enjoy the next stellar generation of musicians.”
The orchestra’s sound is inspired by the basic principles of democracy, he says. “The jazz band works best when participation is shaped by intelligent communication.”
Marsalis has been artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 1991, three years after it was formed and the same year it became an official department of New York City cultural institution Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Under Marsalis’ direction, Jazz at Lincoln Center has long been a leading advocate for jazz, culture and arts education. He and the JLCO perform regularly at the organization’s state-of-the-art facility at Lincoln Center while also touring the world. Newer touring initiatives feature up-and-coming vocalists and musicians.
At Friday’s Stowe performance, Marsalis will be joined by Obed Calvaire (drums, tambourine), Dan Nimmer (piano), Marty Jaffe (bass), Ryan Kisor (trumpet), Geoff Gallante (trumpet), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Chris Crenshaw (trombone), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Elliot Mason (trombone), Chris Lewis (saxophones, clarinet, flute), Ted Nash (saxophones, clarinet, flute), Langston Hughes II (saxophones, clarinet, flute), Walter Blanding (saxophones, clarinet) and Paul Nedzela (baritone sax and bass clarinet).
“Fifteen strong voices are melded into this disciplined jazz orchestra,” said British daily paper The Financial Times about a 2023 London performance. “And each one is capable of giving a century of jazz history with a twist, both in their playing and in their original work.”
Marsalis, 62, one of the greatest figures in jazz, has been an icon of the genre since making his debut as a young virtuoso trumpet player in the early 1980s.
Coming from a New Orleans family of distinguished jazz musicians — including his late father Ellis Marsalis and older brother Branford Marsalis, among others — Wynton is known as much for his charismatic performances as he is for his technical brilliance.
“The undeniable fact about trumpeter Wynton Marsalis,” said the Village Voice, “is that he plays as if every note is his last — with purpose, verve and total commitment.”
Still, the jazz superstar is not one to hog the limelight, preferring to showcase individual members of his all-star ensemble.
“In jazz, one musician can discover many things alone,” says Marsalis. “But between the expanding universe of colleagues and listeners, the diversity of skills in a larger ensemble, and the intensifying feeling of participation when the world grows smaller — well, it is a fantastic feeling that only creates the desire for more and better.”
“We invite you to join us and experience the communal power of this music,” adds Marsalis. “The more we can come together, the greater we all become. That is the art of jazz.”