Jazz at Lincoln Center Plans More ‘Sweep’ in New Season

Conservatism has been the charge most often leveled at Jazz at Lincoln Center by its critics over the years. So it is significant that the organization’s next season, its third since it established a permanent home in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, advances the theme “Innovations in Jazz.”

With a range of concerts intended to capture “the sweep of jazz” — including free jazz and fusion — the new schedule, to be announced today, is a departure from the purist approach of seasons past. But it affirms Jazz at Lincoln Center’s claim to comprehensiveness, a big-tent philosophy espoused increasingly in recent years by the organization’s artistic director, Wynton Marsalis.

“We’re pushing ourselves in different directions, while at the same time being true to our origins,” said Derek Gordon, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s president and chief executive. “We have a curatorial responsibility, an educational responsibility. And we have a responsibility to our audiences, that they have a good time. We like to think that we can meet all of those responsibilities well when we adopt the mindset that music lives in the present regardless of when it was written, and whether it’s music that we’re traditionally identified with or not.”

The keyboardist Joe Zawinul, a pioneer of fusion, falls under the category of “not,” but he will headline two nights this October in the main theater at Frederick P. Rose Hall. Next March, the pianist Cecil Taylor and the saxophonist and composer John Zorn, two very different heroes of the avant-garde, will perform at the same theater. And the electric bassist Marcus Miller will coordinate the funky portion of a concert titled “The Many Modes of Miles.”

The season opener, in September, will commemorate what would have been John Coltrane’s 80th birthday, with a tribute from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. A three-day Coltrane festival will also feature Kevin Mahogany in the Allen Room, singing ballads associated with Coltrane, and, a bit more provocatively, a panel discussion called “Did Coltrane Lose His Way?”

Past and present innovations, loosely defined, make up the rest of the schedule. Mr. Marsalis will lead a group patterned after Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and, during a gospel festival, revisit his own suite “In This House, on This Morning.” Three Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra shows in February will feature pieces inspired by modern art, including a premiere by one of the band’s saxophonists, Ted Nash. A classical hybrid venture with the American Composers Orchestra will include a commissioned work by Derek Bermel as well as Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, a resident ensemble formed by Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002, will perform “Suite Cubana,” by the Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés.

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the nightclub ensconced in the northeast corner of the complex, will continue to book music 365 nights a year, with a focus on Tuesday-through-Sunday engagements. For most of September, its programming will come under the banner of the second annual Diet Coke Women in Jazz Festival.

In the Allen Room, the Singers Over Manhattan series will include not only Dianne Reeves but also Willie Nelson, who will dig into the blues on Jan. 12 and 13 with Mr. Marsalis as a guest. A new model for the venue will take effect: two separate 75-minute sets, instead of a concert with intermission, and a flat ticket price of $60, instead of a hierarchy that tops out beyond $130.

The lowering of ticket prices — which affects the Rose Theater as well, less drastically — is a direct response to criticism. It detrimentally affects the operating budget, of course. But in practical terms, for audiences, it may turn out to be the best innovation of the season.

by Nate Chinen
Source: New York Times

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  1. The “lowering of ticket prices” seems to be more of a “restructuring” of fees to allow wider access to shows in the Allen Room (for example). This is good. I always wondered why Rose Theatre and the Allen Room tix were priced similarly for the best seats; the view, perhaps, justfied the cost. Hope this bolsters overall sales. The addition of “fusion” to the offerings is interesting.


    Jurzy Girl on Mar 13th, 2006 at 8:34am

  2. Interesting season ahead… more global jazz education; what did become of Jazz “Fusion”? Anyone have an idea of selections to be featured duringColtrane festival? Glad they’re expanding the Allen, possibly to accomodate overflow from Dizzy’s. It’s always fun in NYC!

    glo on Mar 10th, 2006 at 9:01pm

  3. Fusion at JALC? It will be interesting to see the turnout for these shows. The criticism leveled at the shows at JALC has been somewhat unfair at times. This upcoming season seems to counteract such criticism. The lowering of ticket prices can only help in this regard. Looking forward to attending some of the shows.

    Sonalii on Mar 10th, 2006 at 11:35am