Wynton Marsalis Quintet Impressive In Bethlehem
The Wynton Marsalis Quintet gave a lesson in jazz Friday night, and an appreciative, full-house audience at Broughal Middle School took down every note.
Staged by Lehigh University to kick off Black History Month, this concert also included the talents of jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. From start to finish, it was an evening of superb, imaginative playing.
Jordan’s unique guitar technique opened the program. From Orange, New Jersey, Jordan was most recently “discovered” while playing the streets of Manhattan. With a guitar style that turns the fret board into a keyboard, Jordan taps, presses and occasionally plucks his guitar strings, producing a one-man-band effect that makes the guitar do things it shouldn’t be able to do.
Jordan demonstrated that the guitar could indeed sound orchestral with the range and variety of textures he was able to produce. Meandering through the opening measures of “My Old Flame,” he whipped up and down the fret board, concentrating on one area, and then dipping into lush, rich chords. An easy rhythm is sprinkled with runs and filigree, with a technique unfailing in its accuracy, style, and just plain pizazz.
This was stylish, innovative playing, evidenced not only in his music, but on his very expressive face. Jordan played only four songs, leaving his audience begging for more.
After a break that went on too long, trumpet player Wynton Marsalis and the Wynton Marsalis Quintet plunged into the jazz playing that has made Marsalis quickly and legitimately famous.
Playing a composition of his own and moving quickly into “Knozz-Moe-King,” Marsalis worked his way into the bare fragment of a melody, expanding it as he went along. His tone was at once mellow and silky smooth, suddenly blaring into a razor-thin, brassy-edged sound. Marsalis can just as easily produce a muted effect, curling the tone over and under the melody, eventually falling back into an easy rhythm.
Through it all, Marsalis and his talented four-man crew – pianist Kenny Kirkland, sax player and brother Branford Marsalis, drummer Jeff Watts and bass player Charnett Moffit – are the picture of reserve, as quiet and contained as their conservatively-cut grey suits.
Marsalis slowed the tempo with a rendition of “For All We Know.” It is easy to be impressed by this trumpet player’s technique, so astounding are the shower of 16ths he seems to produce effortlessly .
But in “For All We Know” the musician was in evidence, offering a considered, carefully delivered, well-controlled solo that eased into variations with imagination and charm. This was the subtler side of Wynton Marsalis, the side that will no doubt expand as he matures.
By Judith Wyatt
Source: The Morning Call