Going out: Slave to the Marsalis rhythm

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Indy Lifestyle Online
If the idea of a three-hour oratorio about the history of slavery written by one of the most self-consciously serious of jazz artists sounds a little hard-going, rest assured that the music of Blood in the Fields is triumphantly entertaining. As a recording of the 1994 premiere in New York shows, there's enough knock 'em dead instrumental and vocal features to ensure that the evening will be a huge success, and it's likely that the applause will add at least another half hour to the running time.

Wynton Marsalis's own libretto is wise, witty and so rhythmically rich that the three vocalists - veteran scat-singer John Hendricks, the gospel- trained Miles Griffith, and the jazz diva of the moment, Cassandra Wilson - have more than enough to get their teeth into. The music from the 14- piece Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra moves gradually from blues to swing, with the composer blowing his own trumpet in a series of virtuoso barks, whinnies and sighs like the great Louis Armstrong himself. The performance is sold out, but a few tickets will be available on the night. (Barbican, EC2, 0171 638 8891, Tues).

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