Jazz: “Big Band Holidays” with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
I’m not big on Christmas carols. Hearing “Frosty the Snowman” has always made me want to punch a hole in the wall. Yet this weekend, a 62-year-young master of orchestral jazz, Wynton Marsalis, got me to believe again—through his ability to make traditional Christmas carols snappy instead of sappy.
The secret is having an ensemble of seasoned first-class jazz musicians, as always solidly attired in Brooks Brothers and almost none under the age of 40. Soloists like trumpeter Marcus Printip (the heir apparent to the aging Wynton), sax player Ted Nash, and bass player Carlos Henriquez, are also skilled arrangers as well as musicians.
The greatest joys to this bah-humbug listener were JALC’s jazzifications of overtly religious songs like “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Silent Night.” Similarly, vocalist Ashley Pezzotti’s big-hearted delivery of “O Holy Night” could soften the heart of even the most hardened Grinch.
JALC’s rousing finale “Go Tell it on the Mountain” gave each member of the ensemble to show why they are still performing not only in New York but around the world. And during a holiday season filled with too many silly “Elf on the Shelf” memes, that’s a gift. God rest ye, merry gentlemen/women/gender nonbinaries!
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