The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for Jazz through performance, education and advocacy. With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and guest artists spanning genres and generations, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of performance, education and broadcast events each season in its New York City home (Frederick P. Rose Hall, “The House of Swing”) and worldwide, for all ages. Jazz at Lincoln Center is led by Chairman Clarence Otis, Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis and Executive Director Greg Scholl.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, comprising 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988. Featured in all aspects of Jazz at Lincoln Center's programming, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs and leads educational events in New York, across the United States and around the globe; in concert halls, dance venues, jazz clubs, public parks and with symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, local students and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists. Under Music Director Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs a vast repertoire, from rare historic compositions to Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works, including compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and many others.
Education is a major part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission; its educational activities are coordinated with concert and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra tour programming. These programs, many of which feature Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members, include the celebrated Jazz for Young People™ family concert series, the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival, the Jazz for Young People™ Curriculum, educational residencies, workshops and concerts for students and adults worldwide. Jazz at Lincoln Center educational programs reach more than 110,000 students, teachers and general audience members.
Jazz at Lincoln Center, NPR Music and WBGO have partnered to create the next generation of jazz programming in public radio: Jazz Night in America. The series showcases today’s vital jazz scene while also underscoring the genre’s storied history. Hosted by bassist Christian McBride, the program features hand-picked performances from across the country, woven with the colorful stories of the artists behind them. Jazz Night in America and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s radio archive can be found at jazz.org/radio.
Under Music Director Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra spends over a third of the year on tour. The big band performs a vast repertoire, from rare historic compositions to Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works, including compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Strayhorn, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Chick Corea, 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, Gerald Wilson and Loren Schoenberg.
Jazz at Lincoln Center also regularly premieres works commissioned from composers, including Benny Carter, Joe Henderson, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Sam Rivers, Joe Lovano, Chico O'Farrill, Freddie Hubbard, Charles McPherson, Marcus Roberts, Geri Allen, Eric Reed, Wallace Roney and Christian McBride, as well as from current and former Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Ted Nash, Victor Goines, Sherman Irby, Chris Crenshaw and Carlos Henriquez.
Over the last few years, the Jazz at Lincoln Center 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; the Boston, Chicago and London symphony orchestras; the Orchestra Esperimentale in São Paolo, Brazil, and others. In 2006, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra collaborated with Ghanaian drum collective Odadaa!, led by Yacub Addy, to perform Congo Square, which Marsalis and Addy co-wrote and dedicated to Marsalis’ native New Orleans. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performed Marsalis’ symphony, Swing Symphony, with the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin and with the New York Philharmonic in New York City in 2010 and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Los Angeles in 2011. Swing Symphony is a co-commission of the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Barbican Centre.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has also been featured in several education and performance residencies in the last few years, including those in Vienne, France; Perugia, Italy; Prague, Czech Republic; London, England; Lucerne, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany; São Paulo, Brazil; Yokohama, Japan, and others.
Television broadcasts of Jazz at Lincoln Center programs have helped broaden the awareness of its unique efforts in the music. Concerts by the Jazz at Lincoln Center 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 several XM Satellite Radio live broadcasts and eight "Live From Lincoln Center" broadcasts carried by PBS stations nationwide; including a program that aired on Oct. 18, 2004, during the grand opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, and on Sept. 17, 2005, during Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Higher Ground Benefit Concert. Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Higher Ground Benefit Concert raised funds for the Higher Ground Relief Fund that was established by Jazz at Lincoln Center, and was administered through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to benefit the musicians, music industry-related enterprises and other individuals and entities from the areas in Greater New Orleans impacted by Hurricane Katrina, and to provide other general hurricane relief.
The band is also featured on the "Higher Ground Benefit Concert" CD that was released on Blue Note Records following the concert. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra was featured in a Thirteen/WNET production of "Great Performances" titled “Swingin’ with Duke: Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis,” which aired on PBS in 1999. In September 2002, BET Jazz premiered a weekly series called "Journey with Jazz at Lincoln Center," featuring performances by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from around the world.
In 2015, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced the launch of Blue Engine Records, a new platform to make its vast archive of recorded concerts available to jazz audiences everywhere. The label is dedicated to releasing new studio and live recordings as well as archival recordings from past Jazz at Lincoln Center performances; its first record, "Live in Cuba," recorded on a historic 2010 trip to Havana by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, was released in October 2015. "Big Band Holidays" was released in December 2015, "The Abyssinian Mass" came out in March 2016, "The Music of John Lewis" was released in March 2017, and JLCO's "Handful of Keys" came out in September 2017. Blue Engine's "United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas" features the Wynton Marsalis Septet and an array of special guests, with all proceeds going toward Jazz at Lincoln Center's education initiatives.
Blue Engine's most recent album releases include "Una Noché con Ruben Blades" (2018) and "Betty Carter's The Music Never Stops" (2019). Fourteen other recordings featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis have been released and internationally distributed: "Vitoria Suite" (2010), "Portrait in Seven Shades" (2010), "Congo Square" (2007), "Don’t Be Afraid ... The Music of Charles Mingus" (2005), "A Love Supreme" (2005), "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).