Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Concerts Celebrate Jazz of the ‘50s and ‘60s

Jazz at Lincoln Center continues its season introspective, celebrating 100 years of recorded jazz, with two unique concerts featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Jazz of the ’50s: Overflowing with Style on February 17 -18, and Free to Be: Jazz of the ’60s & Beyond on March 17-18 at Rose Theater. In addition to performing new and classic arrangements, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will be led by two of their own – trombonist Chris Crenshaw, music director and arranger for Jazz of the ’50s: Overflowing with Style, and saxophonist Walter Blanding, music director for Free to Be: Jazz of the ’60s & Beyond. Jazz of the ’50s: Oveflowing with Style and Jazz of the ’60s & Beyond will respectively include world premieres by Crenshaw and Blanding.

Jazz of the ’50s: Overflowing with Style and Free to Be: Jazz of the ’60s & Beyond will take place at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater at Frederick P. Rose Hall, located at Broadway at 60th Street, New York, New York.

Crenshaw, known as a young genius with perfect pitch and perfect time, is also a composer, arranger, singer, and conductor in his own right. Crenshaw will premiere The Fifties – A Prism, a new composition that will showcase the Orchestra’s wide range of talent and stylistic versatility. Jazz at Lincoln Center is celebrating the ‘50s as a decade of growth and creativity within the jazz world, bringing jazz beyond the clubs and into regular programming of esteemed concert halls, exemplified by legendary artists such as Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and Ornette Coleman.

“As the times and society changed, the music followed suit, but the jazz tradition remained true. This decade symbolizes the crux of the New Orleans period through the Swing Era, and the launch of fresh and innovative ways of expressing and enhancing jazz,” says Crenshaw. “I titled my new work The Fifties – A Prism to reflect the different colors and forms of music that came out during the ’50s, in the same way a prism reflects white light into a spectrum of colors. My hope is the audience will enjoy the music and take care of it; that they will appreciate just how great the ’50s were, and the incredible depth and breadth of jazz music throughout the decade.”

In March, the Orchestra will perform masterpieces of the ’60s and beyond, works by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, and Charles Mingus. Blanding will also debut a big band arrangement of Sonny Rollin’s historic “Freedom Suite,” as well as premiere his original piece The Happiness of Being, a musical reflection on the meaning of freedom. For this piece, Blanding asks “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 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 program reflects jazz’s ever-present role in the pursuit of America’s most sacred right: freedom.

Chris Crenshaw was born in Thomson, Georgia on December 20, 1982. Since birth, he has been driven by and surrounded by music. When he started playing piano at age three, his teachers and fellow students noticed his aptitude for the instrument. This love for piano led to his first gig with Echoes of Joy, his father Casper’s group. He picked up the trombone at 11 and hasn’t put it down since. He graduated from Thomson High School in 2001 and received his bachelor’s degree with honors in jazz performance from Valdosta State University in 2005. He was awarded Most Outstanding Student in the VSU Music Department and College of Arts. In 2007, Crenshaw received his Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from The Juilliard School where his teachers included Dr. Douglas Farwell and Wycliffe Gordon. He has worked with Gerard Wilson, Jiggs Whigham, Carl Allen, Marc Cary, Wessell Anderson, Cassandra Wilson, Eric Reed, and many more. In 2006 Crenshaw joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and in 2012 he composed God’s Trombones, a spiritually focused work which was premiered by the orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The new composition will be Crenshaw’s third work for Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Walter Blanding was born into a musical family on August 14, 1971 in Cleveland, Ohio. He began playing the saxophone at age six and by age 16, he was performing regularly with his parents at the Village Gate. Blanding attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts and continued his studies at the New School for Social Research where he earned a B.F.A. in 2005. His 1991 debut release, Tough Young Tenors, was acclaimed as one of the best jazz albums of the year, and his artistry began to impress listeners and critics alike. He has been a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 1998 and has performed, toured and/or recorded with his own groups and with such renowned artists as the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Roy Hargrove, Hilton Ruiz, Count Basie Orchestra, Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Roberts, Wynton Marsalis Quintet, Isaac Hayes, and many others. Blanding lived in Israel for four years and had a major impact on the music scene there while touring the country with his own ensemble and with U.S. artists such as Louis Hayes, Eric Reed, and Vanessa Rubin. He taught music in several Israeli schools and eventually opened his own private school in Tel Aviv. During this period, Newsweek International called him a “Jazz Ambassador to Israel.”

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, comprising 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988. Featured in all aspects of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s programming, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs and leads educational events in New York, across the U.S. and around the globe; in concert halls; dance venues; jazz clubs; public parks; and with symphony orchestras; ballet troupes; local students; and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists.

Free pre-concert lectures nightly at 7pm.

Tickets prices start at $35 and can be purchased on 24 hours a day or by calling CenterCharge on 212-721-6500, open daily from 10am – 9pm. Tickets can also be purchased at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office, located on Broadway at 60th Street, ground floor. Box office hours are Monday- Saturday from 10am to 6pm (or 30 minutes past curtain) and Sunday from noon to 6pm (or 30 minutes past curtain).

Hot Seats, $10 tickets for select Rose Theater and The Appel Room performances, are released for sale on the Wednesday prior to the performance. All Hot Seats are available for purchase in person only at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office. Maximum of two tickets per person; subject to availability. For the dates of qualifying Hot Seat performances, please call 212-258-9800.

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Jazz at Lincoln Center proudly acknowledges its major corporate partners:
Amtrak, Bloomberg, Brooks Brothers, The Coca-Cola Company, Con Edison, Entergy, HSBC Premier, SiriusXM, Steinway & Sons, The Shops at Columbus Circle at Time Warner Center, and United Airlines.

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