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United We Swing: Best of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas

Recorded between 2003 and 2007, United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas finds an unparalleled array of music talent that collectively boasts 94 Grammy Awards joining Jazz at Lincoln Center Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis (a nine-time Grammy Award winner himself) and some of the world’s top jazz musicians to perform blues-inflected versions of iconic American repertoire.

Those one-night-only, live performances have never been released before. They include Lenny Kravitz performing Marsalis’s hypnotizing, New Orleans-inflected arrangement of Kravitz’s own song, “Are You Gonna Go My Way”; Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks uniting for a stirring, infectious take on Civil Rights anthem “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”; Bob Dylan adding harmonica licks to a deeply felt, in-the-pocket rendition of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”; and Ray Charles taking the stage for one of his final performances to play “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town.”

Together these artists raise their voices to highlight jazz’s importance to America’s cultural heritage and to remind us that, even in divided times, music can unite us all. All proceeds from the album will go toward Jazz at Lincoln Center’s education programs, which introduce thousands of children to jazz each year.

United We Swing: Best of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas

Album Info

Ensemble Wynton Marsalis Septet
Release Date March 23rd, 2018
Recording Date 2003-2007
Record Label Blue Engine Records
Catalogue Number BE0011
Formats CD, Digital Download, LP
Genre Jazz at Lincoln Center Recordings

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Track Listing

Track Length Preview
The Last Time – feat. Blind Boys of Alabama 4:15 Play
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry – feat. Bob Dylan 4:31 Play
I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town – feat. Ray Charles 3:46 Play
I’m Not Rough – feat. Eric Clapton 3:03 Play
Creole Love Call – feat. Audra McDonald 3:12 Play
Milk Cow Blues – feat. Willie Nelson 4:19 Play
I’m Gonna Find Another You – feat. John Mayer 2:44 Play
My Baby Don’t Tolerate – feat. Lyle Lovett 3:46 Play
The Worst Thing – feat. Natalie Merchant 6:43 Play
Please Baby Don’t – feat. John Legend 4:06 Play
Mean Old Man – feat. James Taylor 3:27 Play
Are You Gonna Go My Way – feat. Lenny Kravitz 7:36 Play
Fool’s Paradise – feat. Jimmy Buffett 4:22 Play
Empty Bed Blues – feat. Carrie Smith 4:44 Play
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free – feat. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks 5:35 Play
What Have You Done? 5:04 Play

Liner Notes

We would like to thank all the musicians on this recording and the many others who gave their time and artistry to support Jazz at Lincoln Center’s educational programs. Rehearsing and playing this music was a joy. For me, the most difficult part of these concerts was calling people, some of whom I did not know, to ask them to donate to our charity. It was worse than being 13 and asking a girl to dance. Sometimes, I would stall for weeks just getting up the nerve to do it. Invariably and without exception, the artists were incredibly gracious, supportive, and already dedicated to the cause of cultural enrichment through quality education. Each one would attribute the development of their artistry to some type of education and support from family, a beloved mentor, or a challenging school environment.

The shows themselves were as educational as they were entertaining. The differing styles of these iconic musicians required our rhythm section to play with authenticity and feeling in an unprecedented diversity of grooves, from the 2-beat gospel moan to the 12/8 doo-wop ballad, from various regional 2-beat shuffles to a Spanish hybrid Bossa Nova to the basic rhythm of jazz, 4/4 swing.

The necessity of speaking a common language led us straight to a sound, form, and concept that is fundamental to us all—the blues. And once we hit the stage, the playing itself—the exuberance of actually improvising together with the pressure of a live audience—gave us the sheer joy of exploration, discovery, and revelation in a perfect moment of real time. When it worked, it was exhilarating.

Before each concert, we would have a couple of days of rehearsal and a get-together/jam session in my apartment. We ate New Orleans food and traded stories and had such a good time that the memory of it increases in intensity with the passage of time and with each telling. Many of the friendships that began at these events have stood the test of time because they were forged by the three-part mandate of swing: come together, be together, and stay together.

The story of our integrated identity has been told over and over again in American music. It was born deep in the quest for freedom that was old even when the first slaves landed on these shores. It is an affirmation of all that we hold most sacred: the possibilities that exist when we chose to create the world anew with each other instead of destroying it against each other. It also happens to be the challenge facing our nation and maybe the globe in this moment. On this recording and in these concerts, we came together to affirm common roots, to celebrate the diversity of our creativity, and to pass the reality of our best achievements on to our kids. We were, and are, United in Swing.

— Wynton Marsalis

Bob Dylan and Wynton Marsalis may not be names you would expect to see together, nor might you think about Jimmy Buffett’s music in a jazz format; but that was the premise for six years of annual concerts held to benefit Jazz at Lincoln Center. The exceptional ability of artists to come together through a shared love of the music and listen to each other is at the heart of what you will hear on this album.

These concerts started with two friends talking about ways to engage a new and younger audience for jazz. So many songs from the early 20th century—the period termed the “Great American Songbook”—were adapted by jazz musicians of the time and played in jazz clubs around the world. My suggestion was to bring a new generation in by creating jazz arrangements of our popular music of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. And we would have the benefit of inviting the songwriters to come play their music in the jazz idiom with the Wynton Marsalis Septet.

Immediately, we felt we had a special concept and amazingly almost everyone we approached was eager to participate and donate their time and energy to support jazz and also have the opportunity to hear how jazz musicians would interpret their music. And here they are, donating again so that this recording can be heard by a broader audience than the lucky few who sat in the Apollo or Rose Theater on those nights.
 
From day one, these concerts always had a special intimate feeling to them of people coming together, which is truly what music at its best does. Looking into the audience and seeing a wide range of ethnicities and ages enjoying time together was a huge triumph for us. When a New York Times article in the Style Section referred to our gala concert and dinner as the example of a truly integrated benefit, Wynton and I felt we had accomplished one of our goals.

Listening to all these concerts again makes me remember how everyone always left dancing and singing the tunes for days to come. My life has been forever enriched by the amazing experience I had hearing musicians relating to each other and it has given me insight into how people from very different backgrounds and even interests can always find common ground and a place to get along. I hope you enjoy listening.

— Ashley Schiff Ramos.

Credits

1. The Last Time
feat. Blind Boys of Alabama (4:30)

Recorded on June 6th, 2005
Traditional, Arranged by Wycliffe Gordon
Musicians:
Jimmy Carter – vocals
Clarence Fountain – vocals
Eric “Ricky” McKinnie – vocals
Bobby Butler – vocals
Joey Williams – vocals
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Dan Nimmer – piano
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

2. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes Train to Cry
feat. Bob Dylan (4:36)

Recorded on June 7th, 2004
Written by Bob Dylan – Special Rider (SESAC)
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Musicians:
Bob Dylan – vocals, harmonica
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – clarinet
Ronald Westray – trombone
Eric Lewis – piano
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

3. I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town
feat. Ray Charles (3:53)

Recorded on June 2nd, 2003
Written by William Weldon and Roy Jordan – Universal Music Corporation (ASCAP)
Arranged by Andy Farber
Musicians:
Ray Charles – vocals, keyboard
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Ronald Westray – trombone
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

4. I’m Not Rough
feat. Eric Clapton (3:08)

Recorded on June 2nd, 2003
Written by Louis Armstrong/Lil Hardin Armstrong – Universal-MCA Music Publishing
Arranged by Wycliffe Gordon
Musicians:
Eric Clapton – vocals, guitar
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – clarinet
Ronald Westray – trombone
Richard Johnson – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

5. Creole Love Call
feat. Audra McDonald (3:16)

Recorded on June 2nd, 2003
Written by Edward Kennedy Ellington – Sony/ATV Harmony (ASCAP)
Arranged by David Berger
Musicians:
Audra McDonald – vocals
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – clarinet
Victor Goines – bass clarinet
Ronald Westray – trombone
Richard Johnson – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

6. Milk Cow Blues
feat. Willie Nelson (4:47)

Recorded on June 2nd, 2003
Written by Arnold Kokomo – Universal Music Corporation (ASCAP)
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Musicians:
Willie Nelson – vocals, guitar
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Ronald Westray – trombone
Richard Johnson – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

7. I’m Gonna Find Another You
feat. John Mayer (2:39)

Recorded on June 5th, 2006
Written by John Mayer – Specific Harm Music (ASCAP)
Arranged by Richard DeRosa
Musicians:
John Mayer – vocals, guitar
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Doug Wamble – guitar
Fab Dupont – alto saxophone (overdub)
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Dan Nimmer – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

8. My Baby Don’t Tolerate
feat. Lyle Lovett (3:50)

Recorded on June 6th, 2005
Written by Lyle Lovett – Universal PolyGram International Publishing Inc (ASCAP)
Arranged by Richard DeRosa
Musicians:
Lyle Lovett – vocals, guitar
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Dan Nimmer – piano
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

9. The Worst Thing
feat. Natalie Merchant (6:52)

Recorded on June 5th, 2006
Written by Natalie Merchant – Indian Love Bride Music (ASCAP)
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Musicians:
Natalie Merchant – vocals
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – clarinet
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Doug Wamble – guitar
Dan Nimmer – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

10. Please Baby Don’t
feat. John Legend (4:09)

Recorded on June 5th, 2006
Written by John Roger Stephens – BMG Sapphire Songs / John Legend Publishing (BMI)
Arranged by Richard DeRosa
Musicians:
John Legend – vocals, piano
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Doug Wamble – guitar
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

11. Mean Old Man
feat. James Taylor (3:33)

Recorded on June 7th, 2004
Written by James Taylor – Owl Rat Publishing (ASCAP)
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Musicians:
James Taylor – vocals
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – clarinet
Ronald Westray – trombone
Eric Lewis – piano
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

12. Are You Gonna Go My Way
feat. Lenny Kravitz (7:41)

Recorded on May 14th, 2007
Written by Craig Ross and Lenny Kravitz – Miss Bessie Music (ASCAP) / Wigged Music (BMI)
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Musicians:
Lenny Kravitz – vocals, guitar
Craig Ross – lead guitar
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone, clarinet
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Jon Batiste – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

13. Fool’s Paradise
feat. Jimmy Buffett (4:24)

Recorded on May 14th, 2007
Written by Johnny Fuller, Robert Goddins, and David Avid – B-Flat Publishing Co (BMI) Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Musicians:
Jimmy Buffett – vocals
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Mac McAnally – guitar
Jon Batiste – piano
Robert Greenidge – steel drums
Ralph MacDonald – congas
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

14. Empty Bed Blues
feat. Carrie Smith (4:06)

Recorded on June 2nd, 2003
Written by James C Johnson – Record Music Publishing Co (ASCAP)
Musicians:
Carrie Smith – vocals
Ronald Westray – trombone
Wynton Marsalis – piano
Herlin Riley – drums

15. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
feat. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (5:43)

Recorded on May 14th, 2007
Written by William Taylor and Richard Carroll Lamb (Dick Dallas) – Duane Music Inc (ASCAP)
Arranged by Wycliffe Gordon
Musicians:
Susan Tedeschi – vocals
Derek Trucks – guitar
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – alto saxophone
Victor Goines – tenor saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Jon Batiste – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – drums

16. What Have You Done?
(7:36)

Recorded on June 5th, 2006
Written & Arranged by Wynton Marsalis – Skayne’s Music (ASCAP)
Musicians:
Wynton Marsalis – vocals, trumpet
Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson – vocals, alto saxophone
Victor Goines – vocals, clarinet
Wycliffe Gordon – vocals, trombone
Doug Wamble – vocals, guitar
Dan Nimmer – piano
Reginald Veal – bass
Herlin Riley – vocals, drums

Audra McDonald appears courtesy of Nonesuch Records
Bob Dylan appears courtesy of Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
Eric Clapton appears courtesy of Reprise Records
Jimmy Buffett appears courtesy of Mailboat Records
John Legend appears courtesy of Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
John Mayer appears courtesy of Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
Lenny Kravitz appears courtesy of Roxie Records and Universal Music Group
Lyle Lovett appears courtesy of Lost Highway/UMG Nashville
Natalie Merchant appears courtesy of Nonesuch Records
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks appear courtesy of Sony Masterworks, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group
Willie Nelson appears courtesy of Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, and Lost Highway/UMG Nashville

United We Swing: The Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas
Executive Producer: Wynton Marsalis

Produced by Ashley Schiff Ramos

Co-produced by Gabrielle Armand, Aaron Bisman, and Jake Cohen

Front of House Engineer: David Robinson
Recording Engineers: David W. Hewitt, Rob Macomber, and James Nichols
Recording Supervisor: Sam Berkow/Sia Acoustics
Equipment: Remote Recording
Post Producer and Mixing Engineer: Todd Whitelock
Mixing Assistant: Josh Welshman
Mastered by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios, NYC 2017

Label Head and A&R: Gabrielle Armand
Label Manager: Aaron Bisman
Art Direction and Design: Brian Welesko
Cover and Illustrations: Paul Rogers
Legal: Lisa Davis, Stuart Silfen, Diana Djuric, and Felicia Dyce for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz; Daphnée Saget Woodley and Allison Job for Jazz at Lincoln Center
Product & Marketing Manager: Jake Cohen
Product & Marketing Assistant: Madeleine Cuddy
Photography: Frank Stewart and Julie Skarratt
Liner Notes: Wynton Marsalis and Ashley Schiff Ramos

Music Copyists: Geoff Burke, Richard DeRosa, Andy Farber, Victor Goines, and Jonathan Kelly

Ashley Schiff Ramos is grateful to the late Ted Ammon, who encouraged her to start a Spring Gala for Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as her mentor the late Ahmet Ertegun, who helped her be successful by connecting her to so many of the artists. Thank you to Hughlyn Fierce for his unwavering support as well as the core team that made each year happen: David Gibson, Zak Al-Alami, Theresa Palazzo, Kay Wolff, and Bret Silver. Lastly, thanks to Wynton Marsalis for his trust and constant faith in me.

Jazz at Lincoln Center gratefully acknowledges supporters of Blue Engine Records, including: Diana and Joe DiMenna, Dan Pritzker, and Lisa Schiff.

Blue Engine Records would like to thank Audra McDonald, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bob Dylan, Brian Hultgren, the Carrie Smith Estate, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett, John Legend, John Mayer, Lenny Kravitz, Lyle Lovett, Natalie Merchant, the Ray Charles Estate, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Willie Nelson, Alan Becker, Alec Treuhaft, Alex Brody, the Apollo Theater, Bailey McGinty, Bernie Mac, Beth Kaczor, Blake Budney, Bob Morelli, Brandon Phelps, Carleen Donovan, Cecil Offley, Charles Driebe, Chase Decraene, Colin Nairne, Craig Fruin, Damon Ellis, Ellyn Kusmin, Emilie Fabiani, Emio Zizza, Eric Wright, Greg Scholl, Isaac Green, Ivan Hoffman, James Grooms, Jane Muckle, Jane Samis, Jaya Bhat, Jeff Rosen, Joe Esposito, Justine Foo, Kay Wolff, Katelyn Wicks, Ken Levitan, Liz Snair, Marc Joaquin, Mark Rothbaum, Mary Ashley Johnson, Michael Eaton, Michael Petersen, Michelle Findlay, Mike Ramos, Mitch Dudley, Nina and Pierre Avramides, Patrick Sabatini, Reid Hunter, Rob Femia, Rob Finan, Scott Reilly, Stanley Lim, Tara Bruh, Teresa Hale, Ty Stiklorius, Valerie Ervin, Valerie Florville, William Jones, and Wolfgang Frank

The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education and advocacy.

Proceeds from this record support Jazz at Lincoln Center’s education programs, which reach more than 60,000 students around the world each year.

Personnel