With Hampton and Marsalis, the 40’s and Today
Lionel Hampton and Wynton Marsalis, respectively the last active band leader from the big band era of the 1940’s and the currently most publicized young jazz musician, shared a JVC Jazz Festival Concert on Wednesday evening at Avery Fisher Hall. Both Mr. Hampton and his big band and Mr. Marsalis and his quintet played programs that offered very little in the way of surprises or freshness.
Mr. Marsalis concentrated on hard bop in which his soloists followed basically similar patterns on all the up-tempo selections. Mr. Marsalis’s ringing tone on trumpet went through swirling, sometimes shouting lines, while his saxophonist, Todd Williams, plodded through stiff, dry patterns. However, the pianist Marcus Roberts played with energy and spirit that were initially enlivening as they developed a fierce drive in the manner of Horace Silver. But he lacked Mr. Silver’s inventiveness and, like the other soloists, kept repeating the same basic framework.
The group’s only change of pace was a ballad solo by Mr. Marsalis that he floated on a very mellow trumpet tone. Even then, it was Mr. Marcus’s accompaniment, simple but positive, that held one’s attention.
Mr. Hampton’s big band, which was not helped by muddy, hollow amplification, was primarily a background for Mr. Hampton’s long, pitter-patter vibraphone solos. The band played two selections of what he described as ‘‘Syncho Jazz,’‘ which seemed to have no distinctive identification other than a jagged beat. He also wrapped himself in a mantle of Louis Armstrong by singing a latter-day Armstrong hit, ‘‘Mack the Knife,’‘ in a lazy laid-back manner as well as the currently revived bit of Armstrong sentimentality of 20 years ago, ‘‘What a Wonderful World.’‘
By John S. Wilson
Source: New York Times