CSN Join Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and The Allman Brothers Band’s Marc Quinones in New York
David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash played a special show accompanied by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at New York’s Rose Theater last night. Led by trumpeter and musical director Wynton Marsalis, the ensemble reworked a slew of hits from the CSN catalog as part of Jazz Lincoln Center’s annual songbook series (CSN worked through the same set at a Jazz Lincoln Center gala on Wednesday).
The veteran singers traded guitar duties and lead vocals throughout the night and shared their trademark harmonies during their 90-minute performance. Allman Brothers Band percussionist Marc Quiñones, an unannounced guest, joined the ensemble on congas and other percussive instruments while CSN keyboardist James Raymond—Crosby’s son—served as the evening’s conductor.
Crosby, Stills and Nash took the stage wearing suits and kept the evening’s mood surprisingly light. They traded jokes between songs and danced onstage during the orchestra’s jazzy interludes. Crosby and Nash, in particular, have perfected their comedy routine: Crosby described the event as a chance to play with “the big kids” while Nash said he needed “laces roadies” for his black shoes. Later, Crosby joked that the trio needed to return their suits to Brooks Brothers after their set. Despite the formal setting and footwear, Crosby, Stills & Nash laid down their trademark hippie rugs across the venue’s stage.
Opening with Nash’s “Military Madness,” CSN ran through a set of dramatically reworked songs from their repertoire with the help of the Jazz Lincoln Center Orchestra, including “Helplessly Hoping,” “Southern Cross,” “Long Time Gone,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Déjà Vu,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Guinnevere,” “Love the One You’re With, “Cathedral” and “Critical Mass/Wind on the Water.” Some numbers had a big-band swing vibe while others had the allure of a cool, Downtown New York ensemble. Quiñones, in particular, helped add a Latin beat to a handful of tunes and others recalled the spirit of New Orleans’ veteran Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Stills—whose voice has aged far more than his bandmates‘—handled most of the evening’s electric guitar parts, and Crosby riffed on some Byrds notes after strapping on a six-string acoustic. The band also teased George Harrison’s “Within You Without You” during “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” During “Guinnevere,” Marsalis moved to the front of the stage and sandwiched himself between Crosby and Nash for an intimate arrangement of the tune. (As the show’s program notes—written by Relix contributing editor Jeff Tamarkin—pointed out, Miles Davis famously rearranged “Guinnevere” in 1970, setting the stage for last night’s performance.)
The show closed with a sing-along version of “Teach Your Children.” Though the theater turned their house lights on and most of the crowd exited, CSN returned with a few members of Lincoln Center Orchestra for few minutes of New Orleans music that ended with the group moving in a second line off the stage.