There's nothing better than hearing live music from a different era that seems to bring the era back to life. For the sold-out crowd of 1,700 at the gorgeous Valley Performing Arts Center located at California State University, Northridge, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra surely brought back memories of the 1930's swing jazz era that many grew up listening to.
Lead by world-renowned jazz trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis, the 15-piece big band specializing in swing jazz has toured worldwide and stateside numerous times. While Marsalis is the most well-known of the orchestra, the group also consists of talented jazz players who hold their own as well.
Aside from Ellington's music, the big band played pieces from another legendary swing jazz composer, Count Basie, and his famous “Old Testament” and “New Testament” bands. From then on, the night continued with works from legendary bassist, Charles Mingus, and works of other various Los Angeles jazz artists all ranging in the swing jazz style.
One of the memorable songs of the night was Henry Mancini's “The Pink Panther”. As soon as the famous saxophone melody began, memories of the 1963 movie and 1990's cartoon came swarming in. Even a dark pink light brightened up the stage and the band, setting the mood perfectly for the song.
The highlight of the night went to one of the band members, trombonist Ted Nash (his uncle, also named Ted Nash, was the saxophonist for Mancini's “The Pink Panther”). Ted's father, Dick Nash, was invited to perform the last song of the night with the big band. Dick was greeted with cheers from the crowd while he carried his shiny trombone to the stage and he showed everyone he can still play with the best, even rocking out his own trombone solo.
Overall, a very solid night for any jazz fan, new or old. Marsalis moves the crowd with his witty humor and cool demeanor as well as his strong solos. Each band member displays their own talents in solos as well as playing together in flawless harmony. For this night, the vintage atmosphere of swing jazz was alive and well.