The world’s premier big band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis consists of 15 permanent members performing live in New York City and around the world.
In 1988 the Orchestra was formed as an outgrowth of its concert series, Classical Jazz, with David Berger conducting. When Wynton Marsalis became artistic director in 1991, he emphasized the history of jazz, particularly Duke Ellington. The first album was Portraits by Ellington (1992), and seven years later the Ellington centennial was honored with the album Live in Swing City: Swingin’ with the Duke (1999).
Under the leadership of Marsalis, the band performs at its home The House of Swing , tours throughout the U.S. and abroad, visits schools, appears on television, and performs with symphony orchestras. The Orchestra backed Wynton Marsalis on his album Blood on the Fields , which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.
Since 2015, the Orchestra’s albums have been issued on its own label, Blue Engine Records. The first release from Blue Engine Records, Live in Cuba, was recorded on a historic 2010 trip to Havana by the JLCO and released in October 2015. The label issued Big Band Holidays in December 2015, The Abyssinian Mass in March 2016, The Music of John Lewis in March 2017, and the JLCO’s Handful of Keys in September 2017.
Blue Engine’s United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas features the Wynton Marsalis Septet and an array of special guests, with all proceeds going toward Jazz at Lincoln Center’s education initiatives. Blue Engine’s most recent album releases (2023) include Wynton Marsalis Plays Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens and The Jungle, a recording of Marsalis’ fourth symphony featuring the JLCO and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.