Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
It’s a legitimate event when the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra plays your city. In many ways, it recalls Duke Ellington or Cab Calloway coming into town on a train pulling personal Pullman cars for the musicians, their instruments and (in Calloway’s case) their modes of transportation. Thanks to the publicity machine that is trumpeter/bandleader Wynton Marsalis, JALCO is the best-known big band in the world today – and their two-set performance at Proctors proved what gets proven in popular music every single day: Just because you’re the best-known band doesn’t mean you’re the best.
Mind you, this 15-piece unit certainly looks the part, thanks to the impeccably tailored suits provided by Brooks Brothers (the official clothier of Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra – and no, that’s not a joke). And it’s not like Marsalis has surrounded himself with wannabes and posers; any big band that can boast trumpeters like Ryan Kisor and Marcus Printup, multi-instrumentalists like Ted Nash, Victor Goines and Walter Blanding, and a rhythm section as potentially badass as Ali Jackson and Carlos Henriquez packs some serious heat coming into any situation. That said, it is both deliciously ironic and sadly indicative that all the suit jackets worn by the Orchestra were beige, because almost every number played was entirely colorless and incessantly bland.