Monday, November 25, 2013

Lately, I Have Been Partaking in the Artistic Direction of Wynton Marsalis

That ain't no music. The notes is written out telling you what's goin come next.That's like wakin' up in the morning knowing you are going to be alive at the end of the day ~ From "Michigan Water" in Jelly's Last Jam.
Inside the Time Warner Center, a mere stone throw away from Lincoln Center's main campus, is Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC), where Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is Managing and Artistic Director. Inside JALC are the Rose Theater, Dizzy's Jazz Club and the beautiful Allen Room, which overlooks Central Park South and Columbus Circle. What many may not know though is that JALC also houses the awesome Irene Diamond Education Center, where Swing University Jazz education courses are held throughout the year, and according to the WSJ, an online education video series though youtube will be launched later this year. 

Anyone who has the slightest interest in Jazz, America's greatest art form, must experience one of the courses at Swing University. I recently completed their advanced level Jazz survey course led by one if not the premier authority on Jazz - Phil Schaap; the 8-week course covers topics such as the roots of jazz, the Swing Era, Bebop, each offshoot/fusion of Jazz since then, and finally the economic history of the art form including how Jazz went from being the popular music in America during the Swing Era to today, where Jazz is roughly 1-3% of recorded music sales. (Egad, save Jazz!!) Swing University courses combine lecture and listening, average $100-200 (an amazing bargain) and run anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks depending on the topic. Delicious discounts are sometimes available through Goldstar.

Getting back to Mr. Marsalis, he has been quite busy on the theater front lately. In between Swing University classes, I caught his wonderful collaboration with Stephen Sondheim - A Bed and A Chair - A New York Love Affair - at City Center -- Jazz arrangements of more than a dozen Stephen Sondheim classics backed by the JALC orchestra starring theater greats - Bernadette Peters, Norm Lewis, and Jeremy Jordan and Jazz singer - Cyrille Aimée. What a special evening!  

Those who missed A Bed and A Chair can still behold the Jazz mastery of Wynton Marsalis. He is the artistic director for After Midnight now playing on Broadway.  The 90-minute foot-stomping revue After Midnight takes the audience back to the golden Age in Harlem and  features famous Jazz tunes and dance numbers. A wonderful show! 

So, even though music companies may not be recording Jazz, NYC keeps the art form alive. Students of the arts can head to JALC's Swing University. Theaterlovers can head to Broadway. And everyone can consumed Jazz any night of the week in our lovely city. Just a few nights away, I popped into Birdland to behold Cyrille Aimée on the back of her performance in A Bed and A Chair. Now, that was a nice midweek treat...   

After Midnight - Numbers
Daybreak Express
Happy as the Day is Long
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
I've Got the World on a String
Women Be Wise 
Braggin' in Brass
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Diga Diga Doo
East St. Lous Toodle-oo
Stormy Weather
The Skrontch
Ain't it De Truth?
Raisin' the Rent/Get Yourself a New Broom
Zaz Zuh Zaz
Creole Love Call 
Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night
The Mooche
On the Sunny Side of the Street
The Gal from Joe's 
Black and Tan Fantasy
Tap Mathematician/It Don't Mean a Thing
Cotton Club Stomp
Freeze and Melt
Rockin' in Rhythm
A Bed and a Chair - Song List
Merrily We Roll Along Overture
What More Do I Need
Another Hundred People
So Many People
Broadway Baby
That Old Piano Roll
Live Alone and Like It
Losing My Mind
Who's That Woman?
Happily Ever After

I Remember
Everybody Says Don't
Someone is Waiting
It Would Have Been Wonderful
You Could Drive a Person Crazy
Like It Was
Giants in the Sky
Isn't He Something!
Buddy Blues
With So Little to Be Sure Of
The Ladies Who Lunch/Agony/Can That Boy Foxtrot!/Uptown/Downtown
Loving You
Send in the Clowns
I Wish I Could Forget You
What More Do I Need (reprise)
Broadway Baby(reprise)

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