The current fascination with repertory jazz--in which a hand-picked big band attempts to re-create classic jazz compositions and performances down to the tiniest nuances--raises new questions at every turn. For instance: Since Duke Ellington wrote his arrangements with the very specific sound of Johnny Hodges's alto in mind, how can any band that doesn't include Hodges "restore" those arrangements? Since Freddie Hubbard's improvised solo on the original recording of "Maiden Voyage" has become part of that performance, can you "re-create" that recording without playing every note of his solo? Yet the basic goal of repertory projects--the preservation of such works in the concert setting as well as the digital domain--brooks few arguments. In any case, the entire concept places huge demands on its practitioners: they're asked to put aside the individuality that jazz encourages in favor of capturing the visions of past giants. Your best chance to hear it done right comes Monday, when the jazz orchestra established in 1988 at Lincoln Center swings through town. Their recently released CD The Fire of the Fundamentals (Columbia) makes as strong a case as you'll get for jazz repertory, and the current lineup boasts several impressive soloists, including pianist (and music director) Marcus Roberts, saxist Josh Redman, and trombonist Art Baron. And if you like trumpets, you needn't look beyond the back row: the section features Thelonious Monk Competition winner Ryan Kisor, the marvelously poised young New Orleans hornman Nicholas Payton, and Jon Faddis, who has blown the roof off the Jazz Showcase in two appearances since September. Monday, 8 PM, Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; 362-8373.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jack Vartoogian.