Wynton Marsalis opened proceedings at the Miles Ahead with Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth orchestra and More, telling us that jazz keeps you young – I’d agree, and might add that the absurdly young and talented players on stage that night clearly have much to look forward to.
The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland started us off with a lively rendition of ‘Between the Lines’, demonstrating practiced ease and flair. Their conductor’s attention to detail meant that the synergy existed mostly between conductor and players, sometimes leaving little room for the playing to breathe. Their best number was ‘Dolphin Dance’, which came off brilliantly.
Just before the interval, we had the Lincoln Center, whose first song, ‘Counterblocking’, was (there is no other way to describe it) let loose on stage with a sparkle and swing that left the audience thrilled, clapping so hard at the end of every number that it was impossible to hear the soloists being announced. Under the relaxed, appreciative direction of Ted Nash, they shone: concentration and enjoyment flowed between players and conductor, as he stood aside so that we could see each soloist give their all. ‘Joie de jazz’, I found I’d scrawled in my notes this morning, and still can’t think of a better way to put across the immense pleasure of seeing them play.
Finally, London cool from the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra – though a pity no women seemed to have made it in to their ensemble. Under Scott Stroman, they opened with his own well-structured ‘It’s Good to Talk’, and then blazed through the rest of an unusual and intriguing set. Culminating in an exhilarating finale, as they were joined by Tatum Greenblatt and Ted Nash for selections from Miles Ahead, and ‘How Deep is Your Love?’, this varied and impressive evening left me eagerly awaiting the players’ next steps.