Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz Launches 2023 Season

June 1, 2023

Trumpeter Alvaro Caravaca of Budd Lake, NJ, soloed on Wayne Shorter’s “United”, arranged by Javier Nero. Bassist Laura Simone-Martin of Lawrenceville, NJ, soloed on Carla Bley’s “Lawns”, also arranged by Nero. Those were the two New Jersey high school musicians who participated in this year’s Carnegie Hall NYO Jazz ensemble, which gave its opening concert on Tuesday night, March 25. in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium. (Caravaca is far upper right in photo, which also includes Simone-Martin on bass).

They were joined by 20 additional young jazz artists from around the country, playing such selections as Duke Ellington’s “Things to Come”, arranged by Chris Crenshaw; Roy Hargrove’s Strasbourg/St. Denis, arranged by David Gibson; and Noriko Ueda’s “Uneven Pieces”, which NYO Director and trumpeter Sean Jones pointed out, “is a new composition for this ensemble arranged by its composer.”

It would be hard to single out highlights from this exhilarating evening, but two performances do merit special mention. The playing of the Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli jazz standard, “A Night in Tunisia”, featured a special guest, Gillespie protégé Jon Faddis, who was apparently a mentor to Jones, who introduced him as “a man who changed my life.” Then, Faddis teamed up with student trumpeter Nathaniel Williford of Kissimmee, Fl, for a scintillating, friendly cutting contest that excited an already rollicking Carnegie Hall audience. 

Following “A Night in Tunisia”, Jones introduced “the first composition I’ve done for this ensemble.” Called “The 29ers”, it saluted several jazz artists born on the 29th of the month. Among them: Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899), Billy Strayhorn (November 29, 1915), Wycliffe Gordon (May 29, 1967), and Jones (May 29, 1978). The performance of “The 29ers” was its world premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall.

The guest artist for this concert and the subsequent NYO Jazz ensemble tour was National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, and she electrified the Carnegie Hall crowd with performances that included Duke Ellington’s “Cottontail”, arranged by Slide Hampton (a Grammy Award winner) and Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue”, arranged by John Clayton.

After the Carnegie Hall performance, the NYO Jazz ensemble departed on an international European tour that includes such destinations as Amsterdam, Berlin, and St. Moritz.-SANFORD JOSEPHSON


For more about NYO Jazz, see the”Rising Stars: NYO Jazz, JHK All-Stars post in the News section of or the article on page 26 of the July/August issue of Jersey Jazz Magazine.

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