May 25, 2020
Blue Engine Records, the label operated by Jazz at Lincoln Center, continues to release more exciting music for us to enjoy. Reaching into their rich archives of performances form the past four years, they have recently released two albums that feature one of their top trombonists, Christopher Crenshaw.
The Fifties: A Prism was a highlight of the 2017-2018 season. A suite written in six parts by Crenshaw, the work attempts to highlight some of the many musical genres and styles of one of Jazz's golden ages, the 1950's. From Latin to Modal to Big Band to Avant-Garde, Crenshaw and the JLCO view the time as through a prism, refracting historic movements and themes into a contemporary work of art.
Crenshaw also contributed to the JLCO tribute to University of Kansas basketball, Rock Chalk Suite, composing the opening tune in honor of James Naismith, the founder of basketball. He also added a vocal to "The Truth," in honor of Paul Pierce.
Crenshaw has been a mainstay of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for the better part of fourteen years, writing, performing and arranging for the group. Outside of JLCO, he founded the Georgia Horns, with fellow Peach Staters Marcus Printup, Stantawn Kendrick, Kenny Banks, Jr., Kevin Smith, and Brandon McCrae. Chris was an integral part of "Shuffle Along," the musical that earned ten Tony Award nominations.
Part One of my conversation with Chris Crenshaw covers the creation and recording of The Fifties: A Prism and Rock Chalk Suite. Part Two will feature Chris' take on the mission of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as his other projects and pending work.
Musical selections in the Podcast include "Just A-Slidin'" and "Unorthodox Sketches" from The Fifties: A Prism, and "The Y's Guy" from Rock Chalk Suite.