Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra@Paramount Theatre / Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau@One World Theatre
Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra@Paramount Theatre Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau @One World TheatreJanuary 31 Big band jazz wasn't meant for sittin' 'n' listenin', clapping on cue. That the full house at Austin's downtown palace the Paramount Theatre never seemed quite sure when to erupt into applause was proof. Pied piper Wynton Marsalis emerged first, trumpet at his lips and a song filling the hall. Fourteen musicians followed. In their matching creamy yellow suits, on the modest Paramount stage, the Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra cut a nostalgic pose: the Big Band of the Twenties and Thirties. Like those mastodons of yore, the LJCO swings only as well as its soloists, and Marsalis has fielded a strong posse. Most notable this night was his young pianist Fred Sanders, whose nimble plinking on Mercer Ellington's "Jumpin' Pumpkins" made it all the more disappointing that the tune's arrangement was three-minute pop. Sanders, of course, was one of Austin's more accomplished apprentices, gone off to make his way in the jazz universe. Obviously, he's succeeding. Trombonist Ronald Westray was another to stop, look, and listen to, his soloing on Chico O'Farrell's "Havana Blues" and his charts for a trio of Charles Mingus tunes being highlights of the evening's hourlong first set. Marcus Printup, with the sole trumpet blast he let loose, reminded fans that the LJCO is only his day job. As for Marsalis' numerous turns in the spotlight, they were as friendly as his warm, round face; if his playing shared the company of his other myriad natural gifts -- entertainer, educator, band leader -- he'd be Miles Davis. Across and just outside of town, during the One World Theatre's customary separate second show, Maynard Ferguson unleashed a fierce and distinct musical voice, all right, it was simply out of breath most of the time. The 73-year-old trumpeter, fitting into his cabbie-style jacket as snuggly as Ralph Kramden, still hits high notes, but not long ones. Instead, his Big Bop Nouveau septet does the lion's share of blowing in their matching Maynard Ferguson tees and black pants. Liquid Soul they're not, and yet with their leader's West Palm beach schtick out front, Sixth Street might have been a suitable destination. Funny, the Paramount is just off Sixth Street, too, where 50, 60, 70 years ago, in ballrooms like the Driskill, this type of music would have been danced to, drunk to, talked over, but never sat and critiqued.
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