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Wynton Marsalis is just one of this jazz show's many stars

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas




Posted 8:05am on Saturday, Mar. 06, 2010

DALLAS -- What a week it's been for jazz in North Texas.

Monday saw Latin pianists Eddie Palmieri, Michel Camilo and Alfredo Rodriquez tear it up at the Winspear Opera House. On Tuesday, drummer Jimmy Cobb and a quintet from University of North Texas bopped hard at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth.

And then on Friday trumpeter Wynton Marsalis led the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra into the Meyerson Symphony Center, swinging hard on tunes old and new.

The orchestra is one of the finest big bands around. It's an old-style ensemble -- 15 players who recall the heyday of touring jazz bands of the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

Do try to hear this band. They are hard-swinging, with a meticulous ensemble and A-one soloists from top to bottom. Don't go if all you want to hear is Marsalis' trumpet. He soloed only once Friday, during a suite by saxophonist Ted Nash. He took a seat on the back row in the trumpet section.

Marsalis talked a bit, though, and that was music in its own right. He introduced pieces made famous by the Count Basie Band -- what he called the Old Testament of swing music -- and his comments perfectly introduced the music.

"We are definitely about to perpetrate an act of swing," Marsalis said as the band gathered on the stage. He was not kidding.

The orchestra of saxophones, trombones, trumpets, bass, piano and drums sounded scintillating in the Meyerson, sassy and sexy and high-powered. The ensemble seemed to breathe as one -- wailing saxes, huffing trombones, high-flying trumpets.

The Basie set featured great arrangements that showed off the power of the band, but also its subtlety. The second half was devoted to Nash's Portrait in Seven Shades, inspired by famous painters. I thought the Basie set hit harder. Marsalis is nothing if not old school, and the energy and punch of his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra brought out the best of music that is constantly reinvented.

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