In his historically informative opening comments, artistic director Wynton Marsalis noted that "Central Avenue was the 52nd Street of Los Angeles," illustrating the point with varied styles and firm musical counterpoint in the "Los Angeles Central Avenue Breakdown" program.
In his historically informative opening comments, artistic director Wynton Marsalis noted that “Central Avenue was the 52nd Street of Los Angeles,” illustrating the point with varied styles and firm musical counterpoint in the “Los Angeles Central Avenue Breakdown” program. Gerald Wilson, the veteran jazz scribe who for six decades penned charts for the likes of Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, proved to be amazingly agile and nimble for a man of 87. He invested the band with a potent energy level.
Guest Plas Johnson offered some well-textured tenor sax solos, most notably with his soulfully stealthy trademark turn as “The Pink Panther” soloist. In addition to the burley “Fat Man,” a swinging jump tune from the Terry Gibbs Dreamband sessions, Johnson’s most notable solo came in the Charlie Mingus nod to Lester Young, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” on which the band provided a nice frame.
For the explosive second hour, Wilson fronted the band, and leader Marsalis noted that Wilson fuels his work with unharnessed energy and passion and personifies a love of music and musicians. From an infectious jazz waltz that featured the bright trumpet tone of Marcus Printup and Victor Goines’ always boldly defined tenor sax, to the simmering sands of a bullfighter’s terrain, Wilson displayed his deftly durable creative writing skill. In the latter, titled “Carlos,” Marsalis offered a wide-open Spanish-flavored solo that began subtly and marched grandly to a bold finale.
In a tribute to Gotham, Wilson wrapped it up with “Blues for Manhattan,” an explosive celebration that defined the apple’s durable jazz stand.
Tribute included a bow to Stan Kenton, whose poetically vibrant “Concerto to End all Concertos” was beautifully accented by Dan Nimmer’s graceful piano intro. The smoothly flavorful unity of the reed section left the aud hungering for more.