The packed audience were ready to swing and gave a warm welcome to the Lincoln Center Orchestra and especially so to the legendary Wynton Marsalis.
They swung into a ragtime style number with a distinct New Orleans flavour. There was a solo by Marsalis which drew huge applause.
The programme stated there would be “jazz standards announced from the stage.” These announcements were unfortunately almost inaudible. Marsalis has a husky, accented speaking voice. Musicians communicate with music but I think there were technical issues here.
That said, the overall sound was excellent. The Orchestra dived into Divine Mustache, a beat driven tribute to the genius of Salvador Dali,
In a change of pace Marsalis introduced Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and spoke of the influence of the first jazz music to be successfully transferred from New Orleans to New York. This was a 1963 arrangement by Billy Strayhorn. It was gorgeous and there were bursts of applause for the excellent solos.
The last piece of the first half of the programme was part of a Marsalis work commissioned by the Harlem based Abyssinian Church in 2013. Audience enjoyment was such that the announcement that this would be the finale of the first half engendered surprise. Time had simply disappeared in such wonderful company.
The WA Symphony Orchestra took to the stage, together with Lincoln Center Orchestra and it was an awesome sight. Enter West Australian prodigy, conductor Christopher Dragon and the stage was set for the Swing Symphony. The Symphony itself is a wonderful piece in seven movements. A potted history of jazz embracing a variety of musical fashions from early Southern roots, though to the present. Encompassing differing styles meant there was ample opportunity for solos from by the visiting artists. They were terrific and so was the WA Symphony Orchestra.
One of the most delightful aspects of the performance was the patent enjoyment of the musicians of both Orchestras. The JLO members, all familiars, smiling broadly and applauding the solo efforts of other group members.
The Symphony is a major work, an extraordinarily ambitious project. Vast rivers of sound filled the Concert Hall. This was an exceptional and thrilling evening of jazz and symphonic music.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis' Swing Symphony
Venue: Perth Concert Hall, Perth
Dates: 3 – 4 Mar 2016
Tickets: $25 – $145
Part of the 2016 Perth International Arts Festival