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Bernstein and Wooten

Sat / Mar 16, 2024 - 8:00PM

Wilkins leads music from Bernstein’s beloved West Side Story and joins forces with an electric bass icon.

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About this Performance

A multiple Grammy-winning legend in worlds of funk and avant garde jazz, Victor Wooten is a regular in music critics’ lists of best bass guitar players in history. In recent years, Wooten has sought to combine jazz and symphonic traditions, and La Lección Tres showcases the possibilities of a solo electric bass with orchestra, sometimes with plucked rhythmic punch and others lyrical and melodic with a custom bass that’s bowed like a cello. After opening with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s romantic and lush Ballade, Thomas Wilkins conducts Bernstein’s timeless Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.

“Jazz is the ultimate common denominator of the American musical style,” Leonard Bernstein wrote. The Symphonic Dances that he orchestrated from his West Side Story Broadway score are underpinned by that denominator throughout, whether in the kinetic dance verve of the “Mambo” or the wistful hope of “Somewhere.” Electric-bass master Victor Wooten is stylistically omnivorous, ranging effortlessly over a broad and varied musical terrain in La Lección Tres, inspired by a 12-bar theme he wrote for his book The Lesson, a mystical guide to “speaking” music like language. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s fierce Ballade in A minor makes a volatile, dramatic prelude.

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