Written by Raymond Diaz
Wynton Marsalis has crafted music for over thirty years not only alone but with his diverse ensemble. Bringing together some of the best jazz soloists together to form a group that really develops and hones their compositions to bring together something that really allows the audience to listen and appreciate what they have mastered. In this 2 hour performance, accompanied by a 20 minute intermission in between, we were presented with various compositions, both original and pieces added with a unique flavor, that really showed why Wynton Marsalis and his ensemble have achieved as much as they have.
The performance, accompanied by both ensemble playing and solo showcases, brought together a balanced fusion of the two. As an ensemble they each brought together unique sounds, in one piece it felt as though there was riffing between the two, as the trombones and trumpets went back and forth, then the clarinets would hop in during a quick gap, then switch to saxophones while the flutes played. Their compositions added and brought each section up to tie together their sounds to bring out exactly what the compositions wanted, showing how polished and disciplined each player is in their craft. While all this occurred, working in the soloists heightened the performances as we were able to then focus on one player and how they manipulated their instruments to produce vibrant and unique sounds. By incorporating both ensemble and soloist performances it added to the dynamics of the group to bring together focus on the players together, and then focus on what each of them bring, showing why they are the best of the best.
All of the performances were wonderful to hear, each one providing something unique, but unfortunately it’s hard to try and remember every song. One that really stood out was the one they recorded for their compilation of classics, Jazz for kids, the song titled Ma Na Mah Na. Seeing the brass section, especially the trumpets, manipulate their instrument using a mute piece to then give it a warbled sound that almost sounded like the title of the piece. Then also incorporating scatting to give it that old time funk, along with the pianist and percussion who kept the tempo flowing. I really felt the energy from the performance, almost having a funky feeling and smiling the whole time just hearing the various sounds and materials used to change their sounds.