Wynton Marsalis offers thanks to fans with free concert at jazz club
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis offered thanks over the holiday weekend to fans who have stuck with him through the years by presenting a free concert in the intimate setting of Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
About 130 tickets to Marsalis’ Fan Appreciation Concert were distributed randomly among the thousands of subscribers to his e- newsletter. An additional 14,000 fans watched a free live stream of Sunday night’s performance by Marsalis’ quintet on his Facebook page, according to his executive assistant, Meghan Thornton.
After the concert, Marsalis spent 90 minutes signing autographs, meeting and greeting fans who ranged in age from 12 to 70 and who came from 12 states and Ontario, Canada.
“I’ve been out here for about 30 years. … I’ve played a lot of different kinds of music. I’ve gone from playing small band music to big band music … writing music, and through all this entire time I’ve had a core of people who have supported me and really sustained my artistic inventions,” Marsalis said in a post-concert interview.
“I wanted to have the opportunity to give a number of my fans a chance to come hear us play a small band concert in an informal setting, come to the House of Swing and … give them a more intimate look at what we are doing.”
Some fans arrived early to attend the quintet’s soundcheck at the club and take guided tours of the Jazz at Lincoln Center venue, known as the House of Swing. An Iowa woman received a Grand Prize of a two- night stay for the weekend at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Time Warner Center complex which is home to JALC.
“I’ve been a fan since the git-go of his career in the mid-‘80s … and I think his music is much more interesting and more swinging than anybody else’s, and I can hardly sit still when I listen to him” said Richard Conn, 60, an attorney, who drove in with his wife from a Philadelphia suburb for the day. “I thought the set tonight was terrific. … He’s very engaging with the audience and a lot of fun to watch.”
During the concert, the 48-year-old trumpeter dedicated George Gershwin’s ballad “Embraceable You” to his mother, but otherwise performed his own compositions: “Free to Be,” “Do Your Thing,” “Sparks,” “Big Fat Hen,” “Moscow Blues,” and “Knozz-Moe-King,” written in the ’80s. His quintet with tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding has been rejuvenated with the youthful rhythm section of bassist Carlos Henriquez, pianist Dan Nipper and drummer Ali Jackson Jr. The performance may be released next year as a live concert CD.
Marsalis, who recently premiered his “Blues Symphony” with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, said he hopes to make the fan appreciation concert an annual event.
by Charles J. Gans