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!