Blog March 27, 2020
Quarantunes: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Plays the South African Songbook, Sept. 2019

Anyone notice how much quieter it is? Apologies to those quarantining with children—we Skyped some friends with a two-year-old and all I can say is they must be glad they have a backyard—but in New York anyway, it's perceptively much calmer. Traffic is lighter, bird songs are clearer—the air is even cleaner, since fewer people are out driving. A sliver of silver lining, but nevertheless it's there. I'll be glad to hear the bustle again, but I could get used to a life breathing less exhaust...

Today's Quarantune is also of a subtler, calmer nature; it's the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, performing the South African songbook on Sept. 19, 2019.

South Africa is the jazz center of the African continent, with innovative homegrown musical traditions intertwining with the canon since the days of Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim leading the Jazz Epistles in the late '50s and early '60s. It was music of resistance under apartheid and has become even richer since 1994.

To celebrate 25 years of South African democracy, Wynton Marsalis and his 15-piece big band paid homage to the post-liberation jazz scene with a program of South African tunes and guests, Selections date back to the “traditional” through the exploratory piano work of Bheki Mseleku, and end, as they must, with a piece by Hugh Masekela.

I miss the chaos of Ata Kak-style shows, and I miss the hush of the nigh-sacred space of a big beautiful concert hall like this one. I'll enjoy the peace while I have it. Stay safe this weekend!

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