NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Raul Esparza, Marilyn Maye, Chita Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, Vanessa Williams, Diana DiMenna, Norm Lewis and Chris Botti attend the Jazz at Lincoln Center 2016 Gala "Jazz and Broadway" honoring Diana and Joe Dimenna and Ahmad Jamal at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Jazz At Lincoln Center)

Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Jazz At Lincoln Center




By Sandi Durell



Glitter and be gay . . . knockout gowns and dresses were all the rage at this Annual Gala evening on May 9 at Rose Theater, hosted by the iconic and sparkling Vanessa Williams, who sang “Stormy Weather,” and featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.



Tribute was paid to the Great American Songwriters who became the historic jazz thinkers of our time (Fats Waller, Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Art Tatum, Stephen Schwartz, Sondheim, Bernstein, Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerry Herman, Kander & Ebb, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Arlen & Koehler); with special homage to the venerable Ahmad Jamal and to long time Jazz at Lincoln Center supporters Diana and Joe DiMenna.



The performer and presenter list read like a who’s who from Broadway to Cabaret and more!


The stage illuminated with the sounds of Christine Ebersole in a Jerry Herman/Kander & Ebb/ Jule Styne & Sondheim medley – “Before the Parade Passes By, Maybe This Time, Everything’s Coming Up Roses” interspersed with jazz dance segments featuring Daniel Ulbricht, Tanya Birl, Christian Bufford, Charles Etuk, Bradley Gibson, Sarah Haarmann, Cory Lingner, Maggie Mail, Jumal Story and Kristin Yancy


Denzel Sinclaire resonated on the wonderful Porter lyrics of “Night and Day” while Raul Esparza was hot, hot hot on “Begin the Beguine.”


Chris Botti wailed on trumpet to “My Funny Valentine,” and when Chita Rivera presented, the Orchestra accommodated with a West Side Story medley. Amber Iman (currently in Shuffle Along) was a standout on “A Little Wriggle” while sensational baritone Norm Lewis stole everyone’s heart with “All The Things You Are.” And I don’t want to forget to mention the humor of presenter Terrence Mann!


But it was octogenarian – the Marvelous Marilyn Maye – who received standing ovations and audience squeals of joy with her Fats Waller Medley that included “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down/Ain’t Misbehavin’/Honeysuckle Rose” – the lady is in fine, fine form!


A night to remember for a long time to come and punctuated by the beautiful sounds of LaChanze!


Photos: Getty Images for Jazz at Lincoln Center