“We don’t just play jazz—we teach it, we write it, we dance it, we sing it, we present i t, we photograph it, we film it, we produce it, we archive it, we record it, we broadcast it, we commission it, we celebrate it, we love it, we share it. ” – Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center
“Welcome” is the motto of Jazz at Lincoln Center, a not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to jazz. Through performance, education and preservation, Jazz at Lincoln Center envisions and encourages a world in which musicians, composers, lifelong enthusiasts, and grade-school children alike are invited to come together to appreciate the down-home soul and sophistication of the sound of American democracy: Jazz.
The October 18, 2004 opening of Frederick P. Rose Hall, the new home of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the cultural centerpiece of the new development at Columbus Circle, is the culmination of the spectacular rise in less than 20 years of Jazz at Lincoln Center from a three-concert series to a full, year-round program of more than 450 performance, educational and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. It represents the bricks and mortar confirmation of jazz as a uniquely American art form, on par with the most magnificent works of western classical music, dance, theater and film.
On a Historical Note
In the mid-1980s, Lincoln Center, Inc. was looking to expand its own programming efforts to attract new and younger audiences and fill its halls during the summer months, when resident companies were performing elsewhere. Long time jazz enthusiasts on the Lincoln Center campus and on the Lincoln Center Board recognized the need for America’s music to be represented and lobbied to include jazz in the organization’s offerings. After four summers of successful concerts titled “Classical Jazz,” Jazz at Lincoln Center became an official department of Lincoln Center in 1991.
During its first year, Jazz at Lincoln Center produced concerts throughout New York City, including Brooklyn and Harlem. By the second year, Jazz at Lincoln Center had its own radio series on National Public Radio, began touring the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and recording and selling CDs. By the fourth year, the jazz program reached international audiences with performances in Hong Kong and the following year in France, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Spain, England, Germany and Finland. In July 1996, Jazz at Lincoln Center was inducted as the first new constituent of Lincoln Center since The School of American Ballet joined in 1987, laying the groundwork for the building of a performance facility designed specifically for the sound, function and feeling of jazz.
Building the House of Swing
“The whole space is dedicated to the feeling of swing, which is a feeling of extreme coordination,” explained Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis of his vision for the new home of jazz, or the “House of Swing.” “Everything is integrated: the relationship between one space and another, the relationship between the audience and the musicians, is one fluid motion, because that’s how our music is."
Under Marsalis’s direction, Jazz at Lincoln Center sought out world-renowned architect Rafael Viñoly and a team of acoustic engineers to create Frederick P. Rose Hall, the world’s first performance, education and broadcast facility devoted to jazz, in New York City. As the centerpiece of a $131 million capital campaign drive, the 100,000-square-foot facility opened in fall 2004 and features three concert and performance spaces (Rose Theater, The Allen Room and Dizzy’s ClubCoca-Cola) engineered for the warmth and clarity of the sound of jazz.
In the spirit of jazz preservation and education, the new home also features the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, which illuminates jazz’s rich history with a multi-media installation and tributes to jazz masters, and the Irene Diamond Education Center, comprising two education/rehearsal studios and a classroom.
A Democratic Vision
From down-home and elegant concert performances, to educational programs that bring the sound and feeling of jazz into the lives of audiences of all ages, to innovative collaborative programs with artists in diverse idioms, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission is to enrich people’s lives with jazz and perpetuate the democratic spirit of America’s music.
As Marsalis puts it, “Jazz is not merely music. Jazz is America—relationships, communication, and negotiations.” With this vision, Jazz at Lincoln Center seeks to nurture a world in which jazz is…
- celebrated for its ability to inspire individual and collective creativity.
- freely available and actively sought.
- considered to be an integral part of the American way of life.
- an active participant in the revitalization of American culture and a harmonizing force in the developing world consciousness.
Representing the totality of jazz, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission is carried out through four elements— educational, curatorial, archival, ceremonial—capturing, in unparalleled scope, the full spectrum of the jazz experience.
Educational Jazz at Lincoln Center fosters the engagement and development of listeners of all ages who wish to appreciate and understand jazz. Through programs such as the celebrated Jazz for Young PeopleTM family concert series and the Essentially Ellington high school jazz band competition and festival, student musicians of all levels from elementary to post-graduate school can learn the art of jazz performance. Through a curriculum and other educational materials, Jazz at Lincoln Center offers assistance to educators from all disciplines and levels who wish to impart knowledge about jazz.
Curatorial With the world-renowned Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and an array of guest artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces a year-round schedule of performances, education and broadcast events for audiences of all ages, as well as residencies while on tour, recordings and publications in New York City and around the world.
Archival Jazz at Lincoln Center maintains and develops a comprehensive library of original scores, transcriptions, arrangements, books, and artifacts that contribute to the fabric of jazz history. ThroughWarner Bros. Publications, Jazz at Lincoln Center has published more than 55 music scores of original arrangements by artists such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson and others.
Ceremonial From parades and picnics to jam sessions and big-band battles, Jazz at Lincoln Center maintains and revives the great ceremonies of jazz.
The Sound of Jazz at Lincoln Center
Comprised of 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players, the world-renowned Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has been Jazz at Lincoln Center’s resident orchestra for more than 10 years. In addition to collaborations with symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, local students, and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center features the remarkably versatile Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in nearly all aspects of its programming: national and international educational events and performances in concert halls, dance venues, jazz clubs, public parks, river boats, and churches.
From historic compositions, many which are rare, to Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has a vast repertoire, and spends much of the year on tour. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performs compositions and arrangements by such jazz greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Strayhorn, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Sy Oliver, Oliver Nelson, and many others. Guest conductors have included Benny Carter, John Lewis, Jimmy Heath, Chico O'Farrill, Ray Santos, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Faddis, Robert Sadin, David Berger, and Loren Schoenberg.
To date, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has released ten recordings, A Love Supreme (2005) released on Palmetto records and the following internationally distributed by Columbia and Sony Classical: All Rise (2002), Big Train (1999), Sweet Release & Ghost Story (1999), Live in Swing City (1999), Jump Start and Jazz (1997), Blood on the Fields (1997), They Came to Swing (1994), The Fire of the Fundamentals (1993), and Portraits by Ellington (1992), and one commercially distributed by major sponsor Brooks Brothers, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra Plays the Music of Duke Ellington (2004).
Over the last few years, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has performed collaborations with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London Symphony Orchestras, the Orchestra Esperimentale in São Paolo, Brazil, and others. From Vienne, France, to São Paulo, Brazil, education and performance residencies all over the world also have featured the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
In addition to its performances, Jazz at Lincoln Center regularly premieres works commissioned from a variety of composers, including Benny Carter, Joe Henderson, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Sam Rivers, Joe Lovano, Chico O'Farrill, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Maria Schneider, Freddie Hubbard, Charles McPherson, Marcus Roberts, Geri Allen, Eric Reed, Wallace Roney, and Christian McBride, as well as LCJO members Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Ted Nash and Ron Westray.
In 2002, Jazz at Lincoln Center inaugurated a new ensemble, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by pianist Arturo O’Farrill – son of the pioneering composer and bandleader Chico O’Farrill. The Afro-Latin Jazz tradition, commissions new works and leads educational events
Jazz at Lincoln Center Around the World
Jazz at Lincoln Center brings the spirit of jazz into the homes of millions of people around the world through television and radio broadcasts. Concerts by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra have aired in the United States, England, France, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Norway, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.
Jazz at Lincoln Center has appeared on seven Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts, carried by PBS stations nationwide, with its most recent appearance featuring the grand opening of Frederick P. Rose Hall in October 2004. Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra also appeared in a Thirteen/WNET production of Great Performances titled “Swingin’ with Duke: Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.” In a partnership with BET Jazz: The Jazz Channel, Jazz at Lincoln Center enters millions of viewers’ homes on a weekly basis with Journey with Jazz at Lincoln Center, a program launched in September 2002.
Additionally, the Jazz at Lincoln Center weekly radio series, Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio with Ed Bradley, is distributed nationwide by WFMT Radio Networks. More than 160 hours of the Peabody-Award-winning program have been produced in conjunction with Murray Street Enterprise.
Under the leadership of Mr. Marsalis, President & CEO Derek E. Gordon, Executive Director Katherine E. Brown, Chairman of the Board Lisa Schiff, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center board and staff, Jazz at Lincoln Center will produce hundreds of events during its 2005-2006 season. By taking the feeling of jazz on tour, inviting artists and audiences from all over the world into its new home in New York City and taking jazz into the homes of millions of people through television and radio broadcasts, Jazz at Lincoln Center brings people together for a simple purpose: To Have a Profoundly Good Time.