Classical: Swinging with Grieg

Concert; LINCOLN CENTER JAZZ ORCHESTRA/ WYNTON MARSALIS THE BARBICAN LONDON

CROSSING THE stylistic divide from hot jazz to so-called classical music is yesterday's news. Gershwin started the ball rolling before the Second World War, and years later Leonard Bernstein joined forces with Louis Armstrong. And that was just that start of it. Now ace-trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is plying his trade with all manner of innovative gestures, centring this year on the century-old genius of Duke Ellington. Tuesday's Barbican concert served us Ellington more or less neat (excepting for "Mood Indigo", where Marsalis became his inimitable self), but on Wednesday night the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra joined forces with the London Symphony Orchestra for a two-hour programme that settled their differences once and for all. The 1998 winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, Paul Mann, conducted, and the first half alternated movements from Grieg's verdant Peer Gynt with Ellington's ochre-tinted arrangements of the same music.

Mann's suggestion of "a musical juxtaposition" rather than "a musical duel" was justified, except that there was rather more to the contrast than a change of idiom. Ellington's work takes Grieg as his starting point, playing on basic themes and harmonies, then setting off on his own individualistic trail. "Morning" becomes sand-brushed and sultry (appropriate enough for an evocation of the Sahara) and "Solvejg's Song" shifts from sad soliloquy to swing.

Marsalis explained how the blues traditionally tries to conquer grief by "surviving" in style, which would no doubt have interested Grieg. As for the similarities, there's the tune - and that's about it. Mann drew a warm-textured performance from the LSO's strings for "The Death of Ase", while Marsalis intensified the climax with touching narration, but when Ellington took over, a tender dialogue with dying became a Harlem funeral procession. "Anitra's Dance" swung unashamedly; if Grieg had been in the hall of this Mountain King, Norwegian music would have changed forever. Mann and the LSO followed with a somewhat "squarer" band of trolls, and the boys from Lincoln Center raised the alarm with vigorous shouting.

The concert's second half featured "fusion" Ellington arrangements that suggested a trip to Harlem made via Pinewood Studios and the London Palladium. Don't get me wrong: the concept itself is laudable enough and, given adequate time, could even work. But the manifest encounter between the LCJO and LSO reminded me of the polite enthusiasm that strangers express when they have just met but aren't quite sure what to say. It is naive to imagine that collaborating bands take any less time to "bed in" than individual players who need to acclimatise or adapt to each other.

"Afro Bossa (Bula)" approximated an abbreviated Bolero and "Blue in Blueprint" wouldn't have been out of place in a Pink Panther movie. "Happy Go Lucky Local" started out like the soundtrack to Psycho, and as for "A Tone Parallel to Harlem", the pounding heart of Ellington's original seemed heavily sedated. There were happy moments when an LSO trombonist was answered by a LCJO counterpart, or an orchestral bassist gave Lincoln Center's Rodney Whitaker a taste of his own medicine; but in other respects the clash of styles was too incongruous. Sorry, but some traditions take generations to blend and Wednesday night's second half was something of a generation gap in sound.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence