Jazz at Lincoln Center

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Aug 9, 2011 Comments Off Renatta DeBlase

Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra

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Giving Jazz the Respect that It Deserves, Providing Educational Programs All across America, and Sending the Orchestra on National and International Tours.

Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra were founded, I believe, in the late 1980s, with the famous trumpet player and educator, Wynton Marsalis, as one of the leading founders. In contrast with the 1970s, when I began my national jazz project, there are all sorts of jazz projects offered at the Center, including a middle school jazz academy that provides jazz instructions, Essentially Ellington, a high school jazz band program workshop, jazz instructions for children of all ages, festivals, and national radio programs.

In 1970, there was an occasional Jazz at the Philharmonic program featuring jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, but little more. I don’t think Billy Taylor lectured there in the early 1970s. In 1970, I suggested to Mr. Taylor that he give a lecture free of charge in the Lincoln Center library and he replied that he did enough charity work with Jazz Mobile and felt that he should be paid to give a lecture at Lincoln Center.

I believe the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performs in the Frederick P. Rose Hall and there is also an atrium, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, where jazz bands perform nightly, and an educational center. See the Jazz at Lincoln Center web site, where I got most of this information, jalc.org. The mission of the orchestra, with the help of private donors, is to bring jazz to national and international audiences as it tours the world under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. The musicians are among the finest in the world, and they are performing jazz masterpieces, including those of Duke Ellington, to national and international audiences.

The Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame is named in honor of Mr. Ertegun, who, along with his brother Ahmet, founded Atlantic Records in about the 1940s. The brothers’ father was the Turkish ambassador to the United States in the 1930s, and because of their love of jazz, Nesuhi and Ahmet invited Duke Ellington and Lester Young and some white musicians to perform jazz concerts at the embassy to integrated audiences.