The 1960s was a time of national soul-searching that brought our country closer to its true identity and expanded our belief in freedom. In a contemporary exploration of this pivotal decade, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will perform some of its most powerful and thought-provoking pieces, many with messages that remain relevant today. The JLCO will perform masterpieces by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, and Charles Mingus, and music director Walter Blanding will debut a big band arrangement of Sonny Rollins’ historic “Freedom Suite.” Another centerpiece of the program will be the premiere of Blanding’s The Happiness of Being, a sprawling musical reflection on the meaning of freedom. This soulful new piece asks us, in Blanding’s words, “What comes to mind when we think about freedom? Do we think about the civil rights movement? Or slavery? Or does it bring to mind other things, such as the freedom to think, speak, and act without fear? The Happiness of Being explores all of these thoughts. Perhaps freedom is also simply the joy of being oneself.” This ambitious piece is a powerful addition to the JLCO’s collection of expertly crafted original works, and the evening as a whole will be an important reflection of jazz’s ever-present role in the pursuit of America’s most sacred right: freedom.