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Concert Review: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in Milwaukee

Wynton in Winter

Dan Nimmer performing with Wynton Marsalis at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform at the Barbican Centre in London on July 2, 2014

Wynton Marsalis came to Milwaukee last to give a history lesson. But instead of using Powerpoint for the instruction, he brought along the 17-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as his teaching tool. Marsalis offered background and context for each piece, yet at no time were his remarks dry or didactic. In fact, once the format was established, Marsalis’ brief comments before each selection became a welcomed and expected part of the evening’s performance.

The night began with the march “Peanut Brittle Brigade” from the Nutcracker Suite as arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. This powerful opener had echoes of Ellington running all through it, sounding at times like it wanted desperately to meld into Duke’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm.” With Tchaikovsky and Ellington as the starting point, the evening’s lesson had begun.

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