REVIEW: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Coming back from Thanksgiving break to a snowy campus was made all the better with a performance by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The audience’s excitement and energy was palpable as they waited for the talented musicians to begin. Marsalis and the JLCO warmed up with some Christmas classics like “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Jingle Bells”. The big band interpretation of these holiday classics was fantastic and really got the audience into the holiday spirit. Marsalis made for a charming host, as he shared anecdotes he’s collected over the years as he introduced each song on the set list. With each song, various members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra were able to play solos with dazzling skill, only to be met by a very enthusiastic audience.

The band was also accompanied by Alita Moses, jazz vocalist, for a few songs. Her incredible voice played in perfectly as the band played “Mary Had a Baby”, a more spiritual song. Moses was a wonderful addition to the night, and her stunning voice remained a highlight of the entire performance. The night ended with thunderous applause as the band played “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with high energy.

One of the reasons why the performance was so memorable was in fact the crowd at Hill Auditorium that night. For many, this was the first time attending an in-person concert since the beginning of COVID, and the festive music was reflected in the tone of the crowd. It was amazing to see a jazz legend perform on my college campus, and I was all the more ready to celebrate the holidays afterwards!

REVIEW: Unsettling Histories: Legacies of Slavery and Colonialism

Although it might be tempting, or even the norm, for arts institutions to uphold the veils that American and European art so often hold just for the sake of fitting aesthetics, the Unsettling Histories exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art does just the opposite. Assistant curator Ozi Uduma has put together a remarkable collection of works that spark discussion- who is shaping the narrative, and what messages are they explicitly or subconsciously trying to portray?

When I first entered the gallery space, the exhibit seemed fairly conventional, with portraits lining the walls and several works occupying the floor space. The real impact of the exhibit stems from the descriptions alongside each work, each deliberately including the harsh realities faced by marginalized communities at the time, and forcing the viewer to reconsider the way they take in the work.

One such example is the oil painting Mount Hood from The Dalles by John Mix Stanley. From afar, I saw a simple idyllic landscape scene, which turned out to be not so innocent after all. The caption acknowledged how the stereotypes used in many of Stanley’s paintings played a role in encouraging removal of Indigenous communities to promote Western expansion. I remember feeling taken aback after reading the description and surprised that the painting could do so much harm, which just goes to show how effective the exhibit was in revealing the darker side of such works and the ways in which narratives can be exploited for harm.


The entire collection was created in response to a work new to the museum, Flay (James Madison) by Titus Kaphar, which held the central position in the room, rightfully. To me, this work was the most impactful because it directly addressed the hypocrisy of America’s Founding Fathers in their mission to fight for freedom while they simultaneously owned slaves. The portrait of James Madison is cut into strips at the bottom, a reference to his position as a slave owner. Although I knew of the dark history of most of America’s founders, seeing it explicitly conveyed in a visual manner served as a powerful reminder about the truth of America’s history. This exhibition was an intense and compelling experience that I would highly recommend, and I feel like I walked away with a greater appreciation of the power of art and how it has been used to harm others in the past.