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Jazz in Motion Featuring Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the New York City Ballet
At the New
Frederick P. Rose Hall
Featuring Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
New York City Ballet
Garth Fagan Dance
Joe Chambers and Nommo
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis, Music Director
Wynton Marsalis, Trumpet
Sean Jones, Trumpet
Ryan Kisor, Trumpet
Marcus Printup, Trumpet
Ron Westray, Trombone
Andre Hayward, Trombone
Vincent R. Gardner, Trombone
Max Siegel, Bass Trombone
Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson, Alto and Soprano Sax
Ted Nash, Alto Sax, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo
Walter Blanding, Jr., Tenor and Soprano Sax, Clarinet
Victor Goines, Tenor and Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet
Joe Temperley, Baritone and Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet
Eric Lewis, Piano
Carlos Henriquez, Bass
Herlin Riley, Drums
Special Guest: Joe Chambers and Nommo
Joe Chambers, Percussion
Warren Smith, Percussion
Jaz Sawyer, Percussion
Eric Person, Reeds
Emanuel Rueffler, Keyboards
Rashan Carter, Bass
Scott Thompson, Press
Streb: Elizabeth Streb, Action Architect; Terry Dean Bartlett, Assoc. Artistic Director; Michael Casselli, Set Designer; Heather Carson, Lighting Design; David Taylor, Tech. Director
Garth Fagan Dance: CT Oakes, Lighting Designer;
Bets Quackenbush, Production Manager
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 3, 2004
The Wind Up (2004): New York City Ballet - Amar Ramasar and Charles McPherson on Saxophone, Choreography by Peter Martins, Music Composed by Wynton Marsalis. (Read more about New York City Ballet). (New York City Ballet Website).
Tonight was my first experience at the new Frederick P. Rose Hall, specifically in the larger space called Rose Theater. This new addition to the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle is quite spacious with excellent sight lines. The sound system is controlled from within the orchestra, giving this experience an interactive feel. It's a contemporary space with many of the same materials that can be found at Shops at Columbus Circle.
ExploreDance.com has been watching Amar Ramasar, who has been a member of the Corps of New York City Ballet and a guest dancer with other companies. Mr. Ramasar has an infectious personality, with warmth and humor, when appropriate, in both theatrical and abstract ballets. In this case, he appeared onstage alone with a renowned saxophonist, Charles McPherson, hands in pockets of his red and black jacket, black pants, offhand smile. Mr. Ramasar seemed to improvise his dance, which was, of course, choreographed for simplicity and charm by Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief of New York City Ballet. Wynton Marsalis' composition for solo alto saxophone was very New York, very dynamic (allowing Mr. Ramasar to take some tight spins, but not never-ending leaps), and very extemporaneous in style with changing rhythms. Mr. McPherson stood onstage left, playing on, with Mr. Ramasar either watching, listening, or dancing. The Wind Up was a nice introductory work.
"D" in the key of "F" - Now the Blues (1993): New York City Ballet - Wendy Whelan and Nicolaj Hübbe, with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis on Trumpet, Choreography by Peter Martins, Music Composed by Wynton Marsalis.
Nicolaj Hübbe and Wendy Whelan are both virtuosic dancers, Principals with New York City Ballet. Mr. Marsalis' composition for this Pas de Deux had a slow, sensual, and aesthetically pleasing tone, with some solo trumpet passages that tantalized the dancers, as they linked limbs in angular lines and striking figures. Ms. Whelan is known for her long legs that take on a life of their own, and tonight Ms. Whelan and Mr. Hübbe partnered with significant connection and attention to the Jazz Orchestra, which was so different from its counterpart at the ballet. It would be interesting to see this work again in New York City Ballet Repertoire, perhaps with Mr. Marsalis as Guest Musician.
Griot New York (1991 - Excerpts): (Read November 17, 2002 Garth Fagan Dance Review). Bayou Baroque: Dancers from Garth Fagan Dance; Spring Yaounde: Garth Fagan Dance - Norwood Pennewell and Nicolette Depass and Members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis on Trumpet, Choreography by Garth Fagan, Music Composed by Wynton Marsalis.
This 1991 work, with Mr. Marsalis' music for Jazz Orchestra, was quite dynamic and driven, and one modern dance, with exposed chests, was sophisticated in style and enhanced with glowing light. There was, once again, a casualness of choreography, sometimes in counterpoint to the Jazz.
Trips and Trysts (2000 - Excerpts): Dancers from Garth Fagan Dance, Members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis on Trumpet, Choreography by Garth Fagan, Music Composed by Wynton Marsalis.
An effective choreographed element in this 2000 work was found in the punctuated dance finales that matched the finality of explosive brass. In colors of black and purple, with eclectic pairings of two men, men and women, and ensembles, this was an interesting blend of live jazz and modern dance.
Gauntlet (2004): With Streb - Christine Chen, Aaron Henderson, Deeann Nelson, Jonah Spear, Fabio Tavares, Musicians: Joe Chambers and Nommo, Choreography by Elizabeth Streb, Music Composed by Joe Chambers. (See Streb Website). (See More on Joe Chambers).
Gauntlet was one of my favorite pieces tonight, just for its sheer ingenuity and daring. The sounds of Afro-Caribbean drums from the pit soon introduced an enormous construction onstage with swinging blocks of concrete intended as obstacles for the five gymnastic dancers. Joe Chambers' not only composed this music, but he also performed on percussion with his group, called Nommo (6 musicians, see above). Precise leaps, falls, jumps, and landings were executed, military style. Verbal cues, coordinated by the muscular dancers, themselves, in black and white unitards, prevented rotating dancers from colliding with the life-threatening concrete blocks, swinging like pendulums.
In addition, fascinating lighting emanating from the dancers allowed for a Venn Diagram and other geometric figures to evolve against the rear wall. In fact, when the caller shouted, "Venn Diagram", the dance figures and colored lights began to emerge. At times two dancers seemed to collide, but purposefully, as they then avoided the approaching blocks. This company should be seen more often, as it's concept is so unique and mesmerizing. It's a shame that Joe Chambers and Nommo were hidden from view, as the vision of musicians and drums would have added to the live-action genre.
Spaces (2004): Two Works - With Savion Glover and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis on Trumpet, Choreography by Savion Glover, Music Composed by Wynton Marsalis. (See More on Savion Glover).
On opening night of this jazz dance series, technical issues required an extraordinarily long second intermission. But, Savion Glover was worth waiting for, and again Mr. Marsalis created a new composition, this time for solo and ensemble tap. Savion Glover finally appeared on the raised wooden platform, casually holding a water bottle or towel, and danced his own syncopations and improvisations, choreographed with outsized energy and savvy style.
At times Mr. Glover tapped almost silently, and at times with a grating heel against the wood. He would glance at the orchestra, as he hopped on and off the platform at will, with the orchestra as his dance partner, sometimes following, sometimes leading. In one later sequence, Mr. Glover, in a loose orange shirt over black pants, was joined by a small tap ensemble, and they danced in unison, in a blaze of tap-dancing fireworks. Wynton Marsalis and his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra were onstage for Mr. Glover's works, and it was good to see them as well as hear them. His audience is used to the Tully Hall stage and Midsummer Night Swing with full view of the musicians, who are all professionals in their own right. (See Vincent Gardner at Birdland).
Jazz in Motion is a great concept and should be replicated and re-fashioned very soon.