Saturday: BSO Gala Concert with Wynton Marsalis

Sept. 9

A jazz icon, scion of an iconic jazz family, Wynton Marsalis is probably best known for his long-running Lincoln Center concerts (he’s artistic director there), and maybe his nine Grammys and his Pulitzer and some dozens of honorary Ph.Ds. Like a hologram-mash-up of All Greats from Satchmo to Sandoval, Marsalis—or, at least, the idea of Marsalis—evokes an unreal quality. Poised, masterful, passionately kind and seemingly approachable, he is the living embodiment of Jazz’s uncanny valley. In redefining jazz, America’s art form is stripped of heroin and sex as a teachable epoch for the youth. You could argue that Marsalis has done to it what Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff suggested Coltrane’s passing did: drained out the marrow, put it in a museum, imprisoned it in a formal concert hall setting—like classical music. But you’d be wrong. Because if you listen, Marsalis teaches, and not merely with his easy technical virtuosity. No, it’s all there: the drugs, the sex, the community, the 9th Ward, all of it. From St. Louis to Chicago and from New York to L.A., and down to Cuba and over to Africa too, it’s all still there: the sound of humanity becoming. You can hardly imagine it, but there it is, wrapped in that steel-bird sound that flies out of that tarnished horn. So, listen. With the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conductor Marin Alsop, Carlos Henriquez on bass, Ali Jackson on drums, and Dan Nimmer on the keys, plus "The Wire's" Wendell Pierce—The Bunk—as Master of Ceremonies, listen. Smoke ahead, or sneak in a flask if you must, and be cool. 8 p.m., Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000,, $75-$125. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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