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8 April 2011 - Eric Clapton & Wynton Marsalis

Location

Rose Theater / JALC New York , NY
United States
Band Lineup: 

Eric Clapton - guitar / vocals
Wynton Marsalis - trumpet
Marcus Printup - trumpet
Chris Crenshaw - trombone
Victor Goines - clarinet
Dan Nimmer - piano
Chris Stainton - keyboards
Carlos Henriquez - bass
Ali Jackson - drums
Don Vappie - banjo

Support: 
Taj Mahal
Special Guest(s): 

Taj Mahal - guitar / piano / banjo / vocals

Set List: 

01. Ice Cream (Howard Johnson / Robert King / Billy Moll)
02. Forty-Four (Chester Burnett)
03. Joe Turner's Blues (W.C. Handy)
04. The Last Time (Bill Ewing / Sara Martin)
05. Careless Love (W.C. Handy / Martha E. Koenig / Spencer Williams)
06. Kidman Blues (Big Maceo Merriweather)
07. Layla (Eric Clapton / Jim Gordon)
08. Joliet Bound (Kansas Joe McCoy / Memphis Minnie McCoy)
09. Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Traditional) *
10. Corrine Corrina (Bo Chatman / Mitchell Parish / J. Mayo Williams) - encore *

* With Taj Mahal
All arrangements by Wynton Marsalis

Show Notes: 

Eric Clapton donated his time in support of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The evening previous, a set was performed for JALC's annual black-tie gala. The two public performances (Friday and Saturday) were filmed. The shows were billed as "Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play The Blues." The set list, with the exception of Layla, was drawn from songs selected by Eric Clapton and arranged by Wynton Marsalis. Layla was added during rehearsals at the suggestion of Carlos Henriquez. 

Fan Reviews: 

Review by Sally Rosen / officialfanclub.net
The billboard at Lincoln Center Rose Hall read “Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues” however this landmark performance on April 8, 2011 in New York City was all about jazz. After years of following Clapton rock-blues concerts and as an ardent jazz fan at heart, it was a sheer delight to see Eric pair up with Wynton for this special weekend in April.

Since the late eighties, Wnyton Marsalis has been my absolute favorite trumpet player. Wynton garnered awards for both jazz and classical categories in the same year – a first in Grammy history. Not long after, Eric dabbled in contemporary, acoustic jazz during his Baby Face period. It was my least favorite of his work and never seemed to click from my perspective. I did eventually come to enjoy the Baby Face jazz songs when he recorded them live on “One More Car One More Rider.” I missed his brief revisit with jazz in the late nineties. In his recent return to jazz and seamless collaboration with Marsalis, Clapton has no doubt found a new musical niche!

It was a dog’s fight to get tickets for this unique event. The traffic on the Jazz at Lincoln Center website was overwhelming and brought the site down several times. I was fortunate to get through over the phone for tickets for the Friday evening performance and the box office staff was incredibly polite despite the frenzy of fans. The aftermath of over inflated ticket prices which surfaced on the secondary market websites was unpalatable but, alas, is the current state of affairs in the ticket world today.

Rose Hall at Lincoln Center was a splendid venue that seemed like it was meant for chamber music - small, intimate, sheer class, refined, fantastic stage and acoustics. It was a dream to see Eric play with the finest of jazz ensembles. The band was so tightly integrated and cohesive as if they had been playing together for years. The band consisted of Eric on guitar, four brass musicians with Wynton on trumpet, two keyboard players including Chris Stainton, bass player, banjo and drummer. Taj Mahal opened and came on as guest with the band. A traditional jug band washboard was brought out for the full delta blues and jazz authenticity on various songs.

The opening song “Ice Cream” was uplifting and fun setting the tone for the evening. It was evident with the first song, that Eric was enjoying himself immensely. He could not contain himself from smiling and laughing throughout the performance. With the exception of the most unique and, as Eric described, “finest in my humble opinion” version of "Layla," the set list was completely different than any other Clapton show. One of my favorite songs was introduced by Eric as a Howlin’ Wolf's “Forty Four.” Eric played a spine tingling guitar solo like none other I’ve heard before, elevated to a new dimension with new level of complexity. The band members played and sang in fantastic harmony with a variety of different sounds. All of the band members played were featured on solos in the final songs. The program lasted about 90 minutes with one encore.

Eric was unusually verbose and spoke with eloquence to the audience at the Friday performance. He described playing jazz as the intelligent genre. Eric shared that over the years he has known some of the greatest blues artists and they would always say to him that the greatest accomplishment for a blues artist would be to play jazz. It was a dream for him to play jazz in its purest form and it was meant fruition at the Rose Hall performance. He spoke throughout the evening at great length about the experience, rehearsals, picking the set list and his enthusiasm to play jazz as well as introducing the band members.

For fans, it was an unparalleled privilege to be in attendance at this unique show. The next best thing will be to have this on blu-ray!

Review by Ken Norris
Before heading out to this show I played the tracks Milkman and When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful. I figured I might be hearing them, along with a couple of other songs from Clapton.

No way. This was a night of "you've never heard this before." Amazing stuff. Perhaps done in emulation of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, for which there are ample sound samples up on Amazon.

For me, it was a very joyous 90 minutes. "Ice Cream" was great early jazz fun. "Forty-Four" was an old favourite that I was really happy to hear again. It sounded similar to but also different from the Nothing But the Blues tour. All those horns.

"Joe Turner's Blues" was absolutely mesmerizing--my favorite song of the night.

It was an evening of great music, but also of teaching and learning. I love shows like this. They were spotlighting music I should already know about, and I was hearing it for the first time.

W.C. Handy. Armstrong. Bessie Smith. Howlin' Wolf. My my.

I don't know what to say about Armstrong's "The Last Time," other than that Wynton Marsalis played some mean trumpet.

"Careless Love" was delicate and beautiful, with a lovely EC solo.

"Kidman Blues" was rollicking and all jazzed up.

And then. . . we got a REALLY interesting interpretation of "Layla". Interesting enough that EC felt compelled to change the melody line in a few spots, and earned himself some status as a jazz singer. The band and arrangement inspired him to do some really inventive guitar playing.

"Joliet Bound" reminded me a bit of "Hard Time Blues" with its recurrent guitar figure. Another song I had never heard before, and wondered why.

The last two songs were a New Orleans funeral march and a journey into banjo-driven folk blues. I felt--in a good way--like I had taken an intensive course in early 20th century American music.

Everyone in the band is a great player. So the quality of the music started high and stayed high.

Great theater, GREAT band, and even some interesting chat from Wynton Marsalis and, yes, EC.

And it was nice to see Taj Mahal again. He played his own short set at the beginning, and joined the band for the last two numbers, taking a banjo solo on Corrine, Corrina. You have to love a night that ends with a song that has two banjo solos.

Official Recording: 

Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play The Blues - CD / DVD / Blu-Ray (2011)