Music Preview: WYNTON MARSALIS AND THE JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA & CLAYTON-HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA (The Hollywood Bowl)

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by Tony Frankel on September 19, 2018

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles

JAZZ, GENIUS AND ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS

Wynton Marsalis’s wildly enjoyable composition, a new dance suite called Spaces, combines modern dance with big band jazz in a playful and entirely entertaining exploration of the animal kingdom. Performed for the first time in 2016, this visually captivating Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra production hits the Hollywood Bowl this Thursday, September 20 at 8:00.

Also on the bill is another long-form jazz work divided into segments: John Clayton’s Stories of a Groove, which will be performed in the first act by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with the Gerald Clayton Trio. (Gerald is the son of John, and he is far and away the most exciting pianist on the jazz scene.) The video below explains the origins of Stories of a Groove, commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival for its 60th Anniversary in 2017. The Bowl performance is the So Cal premiere.

Spaces has ten movements, each corresponding to a different animal, from “King Lion” to “Bees, Bees, Bees,” offering a dazzling array of sights and sounds that express the diversity, humor, and quirky majesty found in nature. This series of compositions — an animal ballet of sorts — was written with dancers in mind. Spaces captures the natural fascination we have with the sounds and movements of animals.

Each chapter is a musical portrait of a particular animal, including chattering monkeys, pecking chickens, emotive elephants, frisky frogs and tuxedoed penguins, but Marsalis also includes some aspect of their mythology as well. Choreographer Damian Woetzel served as choreographic consultant, shaping movement specifically for two dancers with opposing styles (both of whom will appear at the Bowl). You’ll see Charles “Lil Buck” Riley (who specializes in jookin’, a.k.a. Gangsta Walking) and tapper extraordinaire Jared Grimes leaping, sliding, flipping, and tap dancing across the stage on levels around the band throughout the 70-minute work, which is appropriate for all ages in spirit and years.

Mr. Marsalis specifically invited Lil Buck and Grimes to perform in Spaces because he considers them to be “the latest inheritors of the long tradition of dancers,” picking up where other greats such as William Henry Lane, a.k.a. Master Juba; Bill “Bojangles” Robinson; and Sammy Davis Jr. left off, and who are as relevant to the art form as other present-day masters such as Savion Glover. The titillating trumpeter will be directing the 15-member Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from his back row seat, where he will introduce each segment with playful, inventive wording.

photos and video from WyntonMarsalis.com

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
MARSALIS: Spaces
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with the Gerald Clayton Trio
CLAYTON: Stories of a Groove
presented by LA Phil
The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.
Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 8pm
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit The Hollywood Bowl

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