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Jazz It up at the Kimmel Center in March and April: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Saxophonist Bobby Watson and Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour

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Formative voices in American jazz come together on the Kimmel Center’s stages in March and April, as performances of timeless works by jazz luminaries share the stage with fresh, new additions to the jazz canon.

Click on the name of the artist below for more information on each Kimmel Center performance:

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with trumpeter-composer Wynton Marsalis delivers an evening of big band standards and newly-commissioned works (Friday, March 20, 2009 at 8pm).

  • Saxophonist Bobby Watson honors Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane as part of the Kimmel Center’s Kind of Blue 50th anniversary celebration (Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 7:30pm).

  • Blue Note Records celebrates its 70th Anniversary with an all-star septet paying tribute to the premier jazz label’s rich catalog of music (Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8pm).

Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, online at kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center box office open daily from 10am to 6pm and later on performance evenings. (Additional fees may apply.) For group sales call 215-790-5883.

A limited number of $10 tickets are available for every Kimmel Center Presents performance at the Kimmel Center. Tickets go on sale the day of the event and can be purchased at the Kimmel Center box office beginning at 5:30pm for an evening curtain time and 11:30am for matinees. Limit one ticket per person.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
With Wynton Marsalis
Friday, March 20, 2009 at 8pm
Verizon Hall
Price: $36-$79

“One rarely hears this music played with such technical brilliance, stylistic authenticity and tonal sheen…Here were the throaty reeds, percussive trumpet blasts and visceral sense of swing that have made the LCJO the greatest large jazz ensemble working today." –Chicago Tribune

Under the musical direction of internationally esteemed trumpeter-composer Wynton Marsalis, the versatile Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra brings their signature swing to the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall on Friday, March 20, 2009 at 8pm. The official “house band" for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the orchestra’s 15 jazz soloists and ensemble players perform classics from the Great American Songbook as well as new, original compositions.

A trumpeter, composer, bandleader and educator, New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis has helped propel jazz to the forefront of American culture. He has served as Jazz at Lincoln Center's artistic director and music director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since its inception in 1992. Named one of “America’s 25 Most Influential People" by Time magazine in 1996, Marsalis became the first jazz artist to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for his work Blood on the Fields in 1997. He has recorded more than 45 jazz and classical recordings, which have garnered a total of nine Grammy® Awards. In January 2009, the Wynton Marsalis Quintet performed at the White House for a private party in honor of President Barack Obama. Marsalis’ upcoming March 2009 album, He and She, combines spoken word with music in a compelling narrative about life and love.

The resident orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center since 1992, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs a wide-ranging repertoire at home and abroad in more than 900 cities and 35 countries. The orchestra specializes in the music of American jazz legend Duke Ellington; its annual presentation of Ellington’s music at Lincoln Center has become a cultural highlight of New York City. Over the past few years, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has collaborated with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic; Russian National Orchestra; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; and Boston, Chicago and London Symphony Orchestras, among others. Guest conductors have included Benny Carter, John Lewis, Jimmy Heath, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Santos, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Faddis, Gerald Wilson and Loren Schoenberg.

Educational initiatives are a major focus of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission. More than 110,000 students, teachers and audience members worldwide participate in programs such as the celebrated Jazz for Young People family concert series, the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band & Festival, the Jazz for Young People™ Curriculum, educational residencies, workshops and concerts.

“[The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra] sounded fleet and gracious together, and their dynamic fluctuations seemed to ride a single breeze…It all made sense in light of what Jazz at Lincoln Center is aiming for: programming that enlightens as it entertains and grabs new listeners in the process." –New York Times

Friday, March 20, 2009 | 6:30pm and Post-Show
Commonwealth Plaza | Free at the Kimmel
The Sean J. Kennedy Quartet

Join us for a free musical performance by the Sean J. Kennedy Quartet on the Commonwealth Plaza stage prior to and following the ticketed performance by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in Verizon Hall. The Sean J. Kennedy Quartet focuses on original compositions and new arrangements of time-honored standards. Jazzreview.com describes the group as “creatively new, but built on solid foundations of traditional jazz."

Kind of Blue Turns 50
Bobby Watson, saxophone
Honoring Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane, saxophones
Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 7:30pm
Perelman Theater
Price: $32-$38

“[Watson is] an old-style burner, someone who manages to turn every solo into an uproarious event. Hunched over, he'll send blues phrases reeling into the audience; be-bop trickery shows up, and everything he plays swings." –New York Times

Saxophonist and composer Bobby Watson honors Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane in a concert tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 7:30pm in Perelman Theater. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue with an interpretive performance of select works, Watson will be joined on stage by Bobby Watson Quartet members bassist Curtis Lundy, pianist Larry Willis and drummer Eric Kennedy.

Saxophonist, composer, arranger and educator Bobby Watson has been a first-call jazz musician for nearly three decades. An innovative leader, he has worked with modern jazz masters, ranging from drummers Max Roach and Louis Hayes to fellow saxophonists George Colman and Branford Marsalis. Watson was named the successor to Art Blakey’s legacy as the Jazz Messengers’ musical director, serving from 1977-1981. He later launched the acoustic quintet Horizons, now considered one of the preeminent small groups of the mid-1980s and ‘90s.

Today, Watson continues to contribute to the modern-day jazz lexicon. His most recent 2008 release, From the Heart, remained at number one on the national jazz airplay chart for nine weeks and included the track “Purple Flowers," Grammy®-nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. Other recent albums include Horizon Reassembled (2006) and Live & Learn (2005). In 1993, Watson wrote original music for the soundtrack of Robert DeNiro’s directorial debut, A Bronx Tale.

In total, Watson has issued nearly 30 recordings as a band leader, and appears on more than 100 others as a co-leader or in support of fellow musicians. He has recorded more than 100 original compositions, many of which have become classics and oft-recorded titles reinterpreted on an international scope.

“Mr. Watson’s music maintained his own elemental harmonic personality. And Mr. Watson, his improvisations voluminous and flaunting a ripe and fleshy tone, kept the show tense and exciting." –New York Times

Bobby Watson, saxophone
Larry Willis, piano
Curtis Lundy, bass
Eric Kennedy, drums

Saturday, March 28, 2009 | 6pm
Commonwealth Plaza | Free at the Kimmel
ArtJaz Gallery Exhibit

Experience the messages of jazz and more in this exhibit of paintings and mixed media. The exhibit will be featured in Commonwealth Plaza prior to the ticketed performance by Bobby Watson, part of the Jazz Up Close series in Perelman Theater.

Saturday, March 28, 2009 | Intermission
Perelman Theater Stage | Artist Chat

This performance features an intermission Artist Chat led by Danilo Prez and Kimmel Center’s Vice President of Programming Tom Warner, along with the musicians performing that evening, and explores the music heard in concert that evening as well as their own Kind of Blue thoughts, memories and riffs.

Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour
Featuring Peter Bernstein, Bill Charlap, Ravi Coltrane
Lewis Nash, Nicholas Payton, Peter Washington and Steve Wilson
Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8pm
Verizon Hall
Price: $26-$64

“[Steve] Wilson is a consummate player whose bright but husky, legato attack and evenness over the whole horn recall the singing, lead alto quality of Benny Carter. His soprano sound is round, controlled and always in tune; his flute, big and piping...He takes his time while improvising, executing fluid, shapely ideas." –Down Beat

The Blue Note 7, an all-star septet of some of jazz’s finest musicians, celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Blue Note Records in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8pm. Led by Blue Note Records artist and pianist Bill Charlap, the group will explore classic tunes by Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter and many others.

The Blue Note 7 also commemorate Blue Note Records’ legacy with the January 2009 release of Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records, an eight-song collection of classic Blue Note repertoire re-envisioned by the septet, and a 51-city North American tour. Blue Note Records’ catalog of music features an array of legendary performances and albums that have indelibly shaped the jazz landscape. The premier label in the history of jazz, Blue Note Records was formed in 1939, and over the course of the next 30 years recorded the works of the greatest artists in jazz—Fats Navarro, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock and many others.

The ensemble of contemporary jazz greats will perform under the musical guidance of one of jazz’s foremost pianists, musical director and current Blue Note recording artist Bill Charlap. Charlap’s trio has become the quintessential interpreter of the Great American Songbook; his latest album, Live at the Village Vanguard (2007), was nominated for a Grammy® Award. Joining Charlap on stage, guitarist Peter Bernstein has participated in over 60 recordings and has toured with notable artists such as Diana Krall, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau. Tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, the son John and Alice Coltrane, has worked on preserving the legacy of both his parents as well as shaping his own quartet through four albums.

The drummer of choice for an eclectic array of artists, Lewis Nash boasts an extensive discography of over 300 recordings which includes projects with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Roy Hargrove. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton started as a young protg of Wynton Marsalis and has since collaborated with the New Orleans Collective, the Kansas City Band and in a trio with Christian McBride and Mark Whitfield, among many others. Bassist Peter Washington kicked off his career as part of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and has continued to perform as a member of the Tommy Flanagan Trio and the Bill Charlap Trio. Steve Wilson, alto saxophonist and flutist, has been a member of both the Dave Holland Quintet and Chick Corea’s Origin, and has brought his distinctive sound to more than 100 recordings.

“When [Bill Charlap] sits down to play, the result is an embrace, an act of possession..." –Time Magazine

“A modernist who has absorbed a wealth of jazz [and] those influences are couched so well, resulting in a unique sound, best described as ‘elusive beauty.’" –Down Beat

Peter Bernstein, guitar
Bill Charlap, musical director and piano
Ravi Coltrane, tenor saxophone
Lewis Nash, drums
Nicholas Payton, trumpet
Peter Washington, bass
Steve Wilson, alto saxophone

Friday, April 3, 2009 | 6:30pm and Post-Show
Commonwealth Plaza | Free at the Kimmel
Mark Sweetman & the Cultural Society

Join us for a free musical performance by Mark Sweetman & the Cultural Society on the Commonwealth Plaza stage prior to and following the ticketed Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour performance in Verizon Hall. Drummer, composer and producer Mark Sweetman originally hails from Toronto, Canada’s rich jazz community. Sweetman has released three widely acclaimed albums, and is currently working on his fourth.

This story appears courtesy of Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
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