On May 11th and 12th, drumming genius Herlin Riley led the way in presenting three of New Orleans' finest pianists in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. With musical director Herlin and bassist Reginald Veal graciously taking supporting roles to Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler and Jonathan Batiste, the audience was able to focus on the incredible musical talent these three men were sharing with them.
Twenty-five year old Jonathan started the extraordinary night off with his own composition, "Kindergarten", and after several more amazing solos was joined on stage by Mr. Ellis Marsalis for a duet. Then Jon departed so that Mr. Marsalis could captivate the room with his sophisticated explorations of several jazz standards --- truly awe inspiring as the audience literally hung on each note. Then Henry Butler joined Mr. Marsalis for their own duet before Henry presented several of his own compositions which included his "New Orleans Inspirations" filled with his brilliantly fast improvisations and lightening playing skills.
Finally, without giving the audience a chance to catch their breaths, all three joined Herlin and Reginald on stage as they celebrated New Orleans jazz and rhythms that had many in the audience up on their feet clapping and rocking to the music to tunes like "Going to the Mardi Gras".
What everyone who was there talked about after the show was the incredible breadth of talent and masterful artistry that the three generations of New Orleans jazz pianists brought to Jazz at Lincoln Center.
I am still digesting the night, unable to put into words the phenomenal jazz that was presented --- it was shocking. As we love to say in New Orleans, "It just does not get any better than that."