-- Chris Crenshaw may just be 34 years old, but the composer has an old soul steeped in musical history, which is why he was the perfect person to take Jazz at Lincoln Center back to the 1950s.
Crenshaw’s piece “The Fifties: A Prism” is a six-movement work that not only highlights every member of the band, but also transports you right to the “Fabulous '50s.”
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The Georgia native recently collaborated with the 30-year-old orchestra, headed up by Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, to fulfill its mission of enriching and expanding “global community for jazz through performance, education and advocacy” every weekend at its home in New York City’s Columbus Circle.
“The '50s is arguably the golden era of jazz; there’s so many things that happened and there is so much music going on,” Crenshaw told ABC News.
“We have folks in their prime folks in their twilight and folks that are just getting started and really about to take off," he added. "And so my piece … reflects that spectrum that you see when you look into a rectangular prism and the light refracts and you see the colors of the rainbow … you see all those different colors in this piece.”
Crenshaw, who took around four months to compose the piece, told us he hopes to accomplish two things when he composes. First, “to make the audience smile,” and second, he hopes “someone gets what we’re doing.”
“There is more to it than just playing notes. There’s more to it than just improvisation. It’s a community. It’s deep and we all feel that sense,” he added.
“The Fifties: A Prism” was a continuation of this season’s goal of taking audiences on a historical tour of jazz in the 20th century, dedicating a weekend concert series to each decade by curating concert programs that include rarely heard songs from the time period, plus commissioning a member of the group to compose a new piece based on the musical themes that make each decade stand out.
To learn more about the performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center, click here.