by rick grant
For sixteen years Conyers, GA native and trumpet master Marcus Printup has been a member of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALCO). When I talked to Marcus last month, it seemed like it was just yesterday that I had covered him with the UNF Ensemble I band.
After graduating from UNF, Marcus landed this choice gig with JALCO. The 11 piece band is directed by jazz great, Wynton Marsalis. Marcus is in the trumpet section with colleagues Sean Jones and Ryan Visor– clearly an all-star lineup.
Indeed, one could say that being a part of this prestigious ensemble is the epitome of jazz accomplishments. The Lincoln Center is an artistic haven for musicians and dancers. The center is a one-stop compound for performing, recording, broadcasting and filming. In addition to giving in-house concerts, JALCO also tours, bringing this top-rated ensemble into the hinterlands.
The Lincoln Center’s mission “is to enrich the artistic substance and perpetuate the democratic spirit of America’s music.” Yeah, that sounds pretentious, but all that aside, Wynton Marsalis’ JALCO machine is burning hot. Everyone in the band gets plenty of solo time and the band’s repertoire is eclectic and cutting-edge modern. For jazz fans, it doesn’t get any better than the JALCO groove machine.
To find out more about this group and its upcoming performance at UNF’s Fine Arts Center, I called Marcus who was on the way to Manhattan from his New Jersey home for a sound check. As we talked, the past 16 years melted away.
“Previously, over the years, we had been scheduled to play at UNF, but the shows were canceled for whatever reason. So, I’m excited to get back to UNF to play a concert with this great group at my alma mater.
“It all started with Marcus Roberts during the UNF Great American Jazz Series. He had a gig with Wynton Marsalis. So, I told Marcus that I was interested in playing with Wynton. I drove down to Pensacola with Roberts. I was backstage and at the end of the concert, Wynton said, ‘We are going to play one more song, and I’m inviting Marcus Printup to play with us.’ One year later, in 1993, Wynton called me and invited me to join JALCO. Of course, I said yes. It was like a dream come true. It was a real blessing.
“Since then, we have toured all over the world. The group is highly respected worldwide. So, they know who we are going in, thus, the audience is psyched to see us. We also play colleges and many other venues in America. The Lincoln Center has its own audio and video recording studios, so we can record anytime we can spare.
“We’re making history with this ensemble, like in the past with Duke Ellington. So when I’m dead and gone, this path-finding orchestra will be listed in the history books. This gives the project more importance. We play such a variety of music that I’m always learning new material and perfecting the older songs.
“In this all-star orchestra, we get a lot of solo time. In other big bands, there are maybe two or three soloists. In this band everyone is a featured soloist, including the director, Wynton Marsalis. On any night, I get one or two solos, which is great. We respect and honor each other. So you might say there is team spirit and individual respect for one another.”
In my opinion, Marcus is in a league with Miles Davis because he uses musical space skillfully. His solos are soulful and intelligently conceived. Marcus and his esteemed colleagues with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will play a concert at the UNF Fine Arts Center on January 24, 2009.
by rick grant