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First formed in 1988, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO) is the official "house band" for Jazz at Lincoln Center activities. Under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, the orchestra is dedicated to developing a performance repertory of historic compositions and newly-commissioned works for big band. The LCJO specializes in the music of Duke Ellington, and its annual presentation of Ellington’s music at Lincoln Center has become a cultural hihglight of New York City. The LCJO annually tours the United States and has also performed across Europe and Asia. Their music is documented on three recordings produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center for Columbia/Sony Music, including Portraits by Ellington (1992), The Fire of the Fundamentals (1993), and They Came to Swing (1994).

Performance highlights include concerts in The Hollywood Bowl, Vienna Opera House, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Tanglewood, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and the Symphony Halls of Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Munich, and Hong Kong. The orchestra has appeared on television broadcasts in France, Spain, Finland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, and has also appeared on "Live From Lincoln Center" and the "Tonight" Show. Along the way, the LCJO has performed numerous concerts for young people and has conducted workshops and master classes for students at universities and high schools nationwide.

The historic repertory of the LCJO includes compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Sy Oliver, Thelonius Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Jay McShann, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Bennie Moten, Eddie Durham, Edgar Sampson, Eddie Sauter, Woody Herman, John Lewis, and others. Jazz at Lincoln Center has commissioned works for the LCJO from Benny Carter, Joe Henderson, Jimmy Heath, Chico O’Farrill, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, and Stephen Scott. Guest conductors for the LCJO have included Benny Carter, Jon Faddis, Robert Sadin, David Berger, and Loren Schoenberg.

From January through March of 1997, the LCJO will tour 24 cities across the United States and Europe performing Wynton Marsalis’ highly acclaimed epic oratorio on American slavery, Blood on the Fields. The recording of this work was release by Columbia Records as a 3-Disc set in the spring of 1997

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