Black Brown & Beige and the Best of Basie: The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis - New York City Article
“Black Brown & Beige and the Best of Basie”
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, artistic director, Wynton Marsalis.
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall
Broadway at 60th Street, 5th Floor, (212) 721 6500
Thursday (April 26) through Saturday (April 28)
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra played a similar program when the then-brand-new Rose Hall first opened about 15 years ago, and it’s only fitting that they reprise “Duke Ellington’s first symphony” in this, the landmark 30th year of the organization. That’s because “Black, Brown and Beige” (subtitled “A Tone Parallel to the American Negro”) was the original full-length extended jazz suite - and it’s still among the two or three all-time greatest works in the form - the first to prove that jazz could sustain symphonic scope and that a single epic work could sustain an audience’s attention for a full 45-minutes. Indeed, it was the canon of Duke Ellington, and BBB in particular, that expanded the canvas for jazz and, in the process, laid the very foundation for Jazz at Lincoln Center by establishing the idea that jazz belongs in a concert hall no less than a ballroom. Yet the work isn’t high falutin’ at all, rather in such subsections as “Come Sunday” and “The Blues,” it contains some of Ellington’s most movingly spiritual and funky tunes ever, which makes it a perfect counterpart to the blues-and-ballad driven, hard-swinging music of the Duke’s royal colleague from Red Bank by way of Kansas City, Count Basie. Between the Duke and the Count, this evening is nothing less than a microcosm of the all-time greatest large-format works in all of American music.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)