Under the direction of Grammy Award winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra for more than 10 years. They have taken the gospel according to the traditions of jazz all over the United States and around the world. Their trip to Houston is a major stop among the many they make throughout the year. Plus, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is an integral part of programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Numerous educational opportunities are also provided in and around the greater New York City metropolitan area. The orchestra has been seen in concert halls, riverboats, jazz clubs, public parks and churches; and with symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, local students and numerous guest artists. Jones Hall would prove to be yet another exceptional night of jazz amongst many, and Houston was all the better for the experience.
During the evening, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performed a number of compositions from the likes of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, George Gerswin and other influences. Tunes such as 'Rhapsody in Blue', 'Big Train', and a 'Love Supreme' proved to be a welcome respite from the parade of smooth jazz concerts that frequent the city on a regular basis. Traditional jazz is a rarity, and when concerts such as the LCJO come to Houston, it is enlightening for jazz beginners and connoisseurs. The opportunity to hear this type of music brings to bear the works of some of the finest jazz legends in history. Although many of these individuals are no longer with us, their arrangements and compositions have continued to entertain and inspire countless generations since their passing. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has been a major part of that endeavor. Their performance in Jones Hall was not only important for elevating the consciousness of jazz in Houston, it also disproved the notion that Houston is not a jazz town. Because the LCJO made a stop in Houston, the message was sent to naysayers and promoters alike that if the right artists and musicians are brought to the city, they will be supported. Jazz as an art form is one of America's greatest treasures, and Houston treated the genre with much enthusiasm and support.
Every year, the Society for the Performing Arts schedules jazz as one of its major offerings during its artistic season. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and other opportunities are a breath of fresh air in a stagnant jazz environment. Quality concerts and shows provide an outlet for jazz hungry fans, who relish it as an artistic endeavor. In order for this kind of entertainment to continue, the art form must be supported. The music has survived for over 100 years, and its demise has been predicted since 1917. Wynton Marsalis said it best during the LCJO's performance in Houston: "Jazz is like a roach, it will always be here." When you listen to the music of the great masters, there is a reality check of sorts. "Jazz will never die!" It will live on in the thousands of compositions and arrangements that have been left and recorded for all the world to hear. Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and other outlets for jazz are the most effective way of exposing the general public to this great American art form. As one can see, it is all about tradition.