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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

MSNBC > Reuters > Jazz finds a new home in a New York skyscraper

NEW YORK, Oct. 19th 2004 Perched above a shopping mall in a skyscraper at the heart of corporate America, the new home of New York's leading jazz orchestra is a long way from the smoky basements and soulful southern cities of the past.

''Welcome to the house of swing'' -- with those words Wynton Marsalis, of the legendary jazz family, opened the new headquarters of Jazz at Lincoln Center Monday night with a gala performance in an auditorium designed specially for the acoustics of jazz.
Earlier he led a New Orleans-style musical parade down Broadway, kicking off the inaugural festival at the three venues housed in the Time Warner Center that towers over the southwest corner of Central Park.
Public performances start Thursday with the Dizzy Gillespie Festival in the smallest and most intimate of the venues -- Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, whose curved walls, low lighting and tables give the atmosphere of a nightclub.
The Frederick P. Rose Hall complex, sitting above the clothes stores and cafes in the sleek new glass towers, was built at a cost of $128 million and includes recording studios and classrooms for lectures and educational events.
''We've built a house that really swings with the way jazz works, the way jazz feels, and most of all, the way jazz sounds,'' Marsalis said before the gala opening featuring names such as Tony Bennett and Abbey Lincoln, as well as another four members of the Marsalis clan.
Jazz has always been a family affair, and the new center aims to start them young. Children as young as two can join the singing and dancing in the WeBop! educational program.
The main 1,200-seat Rose Theater is designed for jazz but will also be used for opera, ballet, theater and orchestra performances. The most spectacular of the venues is the Allen Room, a 500-seat auditorium with dramatic views through a 50-foot-by-90-foot (15-meter by 27-meter) glass wall overlooking Central Park and the shimmering lights of the city.
Initial reactions were good. ''Sophisticated, cosmopolitan ... flexible and alive,'' was the verdict of The New York Times.
Artistic director Marsalis said it's all about the music. ''Either you can play or you can't play. That's the test.''

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