The future of jazz was on display July 28th in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium as trumpeter/educator Sean Jones unveiled the 2022 edition of the NYO Jazz Orchestra.
As previously reported (Jersey Jazz, July/August 2022), two New Jersey student musicians are part of the ensemble, and they distinguished themselves at the concert – drummer Ben Schwartz with a Buddy Rich-like solo on Mary Lou Williams’ “Roll ‘Em” and bassist Laura Simone-Martin, driving the band with her solos on Endea Owens’ “Ida’s Crusade”, a tribute to activist Ida B. Wells. Jones pointed out that Williams arranged “Roll ‘Em” for Benny Goodman’s big band, and Miami, FL-based tenor saxophonist Lucas Netto played an inspiring clarinet solo that had his fellow saxophonists bouncing in their seats.
One of the highlights of the concert was an unusual arrangement of the Ellington/Strayhorn classic, “Take the A Train”, with a hauntingly beautiful alto saxophone solo by Los Angeles’ Kaela Seltzer. The spirit of Johnny Hodges was clearly in the room.
Pointing out that lots of jazz compositions revolve around trains, Jones, who is NYO Jazz Artistic Director, introduced two of those compositions back-to-back – Duke Ellington’s “Track 360”, followed by Bob Brookmeyer’s “The American Express”.
The guest artist for this concert and the subsequent tour of seven U.S. cities was vocalist Jazzmeia Horn who opened the concert, singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to new John Clayton arrangements played by the orchestra. Then, she closed the concert, energizing the audience with some original compositions from her Empress Legacy album, Dear Love.
Following the Carnegie Hall performance, the NYO Jazz Orchestra left New York for a seven-city tour which began August 30 in Cleveland and will conclude on August 9 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. –SANFORD JOSEPHSON
PHOTO BY TODD ROSENBERG