REVIEW: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Chick Corea

The concert given by the jazz legend Chick Corea and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra was a spectacular experience overall and great opportunity to see some classic jazz tunes in a new light.  In spite of the start time of the concert falling just after the conclusion of the Michigan Men’s Basketball team Final Four game, the audience at historic Hill Auditorium was full and eager to see one of America’s best big bands perform live.  This tour was the first to feature the JLCO without their music director and regular frontman, Wynton Marsalis.  Because of their top tier status, the orchestra has the luxury of switching one legend to lead them for another.  The band consisted of four trumpets, four saxophones, three trombones, a bass players, a drummer, and Mr. Corea on keys.  The concert opened with a Chick Corea classic, “Armando’s Rhumba”, as arranged by the bass player of the band.  It was not a traditional performance of Chick Corea’s music because it was originally written for the instrumentation of various jazz combos he has played in.  A jazz combo usually only consists of a few members while this big band had 15.  In his performance at Hill, his pieces were shown in a whole new light as arrangements for big band.  These specific arrangements were done by members of the JLCO for this tour.  Each arrangement had multiple opportunities for solos and the members of the JLCO did anything but disappoint when called upon to step into the spotlight.  Just about every member of the orchestra got a solo at some point.  Usually, there were three or four soloists on a song across all instrument groups.  The song selection for the concert spanned a broad array of different types of jazz.  Songs like “Armando’s Rhumba” showed off the Latin side of Corea’s music while a song like “Windows” and “Crystal Silence” showed off some of his most beautiful writing.  As a percussionist, I was particularly interested to see how the drummer of the JLCO played both with the group and as a soloist.  With the group, his groove was sound and he added tasteful embellishments to it throughout the various songs that only added to the textures being made by the ensemble.  At the beginning of the first piece, it was a little hard to hear him, but I think it was probably just a microphone issue because I did not notice it for the rest of the night.  As a soloist, he seemed to have the mentality of going into the solo with a few cool ideas and performing variations on them all around the kit.  He executed these maneuvers incredibly well, as would be expected for a member of one of America’s best big bands.  Every member of that ensemble was up to the level of the drummer both as ensemble players and soloists as well.  As amazing as the group was, the audience was there to see the headliner, Chick Corea.  Chick was fantastic on every song, leading the band through the intricacies of his music.  It seemed as though there was some sort of piano issue that required a stagehand to fiddle with something under his piano a few times during the performance, but he overcame whatever the issue was.  What impressed me most about Chick was the respect he had for the other members of the band.  Sometimes he had to play background for a solo, but when given the opportunity to watch a band member solo, like the drummer, Chick got out of his seat to actually watch him with a better view.  Overall, all of the musicians were amazing and I would highly recommend seeing Chick Corea and/or the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to anybody who has the opportunity.


ajayw is a freshman in SMTD and Economics. It is his first year reviewing for art[seen]. As a music student, ajayw takes great interest in reviewing the music events on campus, especially those brought in by UMS.

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