Wynton Marsalis seeks respect. When the Celebrity Series brought his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to Symphony Hall on Sunday to perform the music of Duke Ellington, the program was in keeping with Marsalis’s overall mission to establish (enshrine?) jazz as America’s classical music, defying decades of racism and racially biased neglect. Ellington fits this message perfectly, as the great American composer who was famously denied the Pulitzer Prize during his lifetime despite brilliant compositions, several of which were beautifully performed on Sunday (Arts Fuse review). And in unspoken rebuke to such prejudiced slights, the orchestra is both multi-ethnic and multigenerational: a rainbow of musicians performing pieces that deserve to be heard by all. And yet, for this listener, the overall effect was discordant, though it took a few numbers before I realized why. As band member after band member stood to solo, it finally hit me. Every one of the 15-piece orchestra was male….
[This was the beginning of an essay I wrote for the Arts Fuse, a Boston arts newsletter. Does it play into my mysteries? Not directly, but I am hard at work on a book set in the music world, with a female protagonist, so…)