In 2013, when the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis set out to honor the legacy of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s maestro, John Lewis, they teamed up with New Orleans’ own Jon Batiste. The bandleader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and a prodigious pianist in his own right, Batiste joined the JLCO to tackle some of Lewis’s most iconic tunes during a sold-out concert in Rose Theater, the House of Swing.
Few captured the sleek, swinging sophistication of jazz better than pianist, composer, and bandleader Lewis, who had a long, deep, personal relationship with Jazz at Lincoln Center. “He used to always call our program a miracle,” says Wynton Marsalis. “He used to always say, ‘Keep that miracle going.’”
From the blistering bebop of “Two Bass Hit” to the down-home blues of “2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West”—from small group configurations to the big band might of the full Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra—The Music of John Lewis captures the elegance and soulfulness of Lewis’s daring compositions. The record also includes a four-movement suite pulled from the Modern Jazz Quartet’s classic recording, The Comedy.
“The depth of his belief makes his music timeless,” Batiste says of Lewis. “For artists, what remains impactful and meaningful in one’s art depends on the accuracy and intensity of your insights. Mr. Lewis's music is still with us, and it is an honor to place my artistry in the tradition of serving it. So put on this record, listen with your eyes closed, and engage your imagination.”
ABOUT BLUE ENGINE RECORDS
Blue Engine Records, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s platform that makes its vast archive of recorded concerts available to jazz audiences everywhere, launched on June 30, 2015.Blue Engine Records releases new studio and live recordings as well as archival recordings from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s performance history that date back to 1987 and are part of the
R. Theodore Ammon Archives and Music Library. Since the institution’s founding in 1987, each year’s programming is conceived and developed by Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis with a vision toward building a comprehensive library of iconic and wide-ranging compositions that, taken together, make up a canon of music.
These archives include accurate, complete charts for the compositions – both old and new – performed each season. Coupled with consistently well-executed and recorded music performed by Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, this archive has grown to include thousands of songs from hundreds of concert dates. The launch of Blue Engine is aligned with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s efforts to cultivate existing jazz fans worldwide and turn new audiences onto jazz.