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Paul Simon Teams Up With Wynton Marsalis for New York Concert

Paul Simon
Charles Eshelman, Getty Images

Build yourself a musical career as lengthy as Paul Simon‘s and chances are, you’ll eventually lose track of how many shows you’ve played, and the performances of your greatest hits will start to blur together. But every so often, a special show comes along — as Simon demonstrated last week when he delved into his songbook with the aid of some very special guests.

Playing with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra, Simon revisited his classics before a packed house at New York’s Rose Theater. And unlike other retrospective events — such as the all-star show thrown by the Library of Congress to bestow Simon with its inaugural Gershwin Prize — this evening boasted not only guest stars and lots of hits, but new (and in some cases, vastly different) arrangements of the classics.

“This has been an extraordinary, extraordinary blending of two different sounds and musicians into an amalgam that sounds like, you know, music,” reflected Simon toward the end of the show, which found him playing alongside Marsalis and his 14-piece band. “It’s just quite extraordinary, really, to hear my music played in different ways. Quite a thrill for me.”

As reported by Rolling Stone, the set list included newly arranged versions of Simon mainstays like ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’ and ‘The Boxer’ — as well as a surprise appearance by Aaron Neville, who not only dueted with Simon on the 1973 classic ‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras’ (which originally boasted a brass arrangement by Allen Toussaint), but delivered a show-stopping rendition of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’

As the review points out, ushers were on hand to keep the audience from using cameras or cellphones to capture the show, and video from the evening has yet to surface on YouTube; here’s hoping the concert eventually sees official release. In the meantime, fans can look forward to a newly remastered and expanded reissue of Simon’s ‘Graceland’ album in the near future, as well as a tour to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

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