Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra were in town last Tuesday evening and it wasn’t an event I was about to miss. Marsalis, winner of 9 Grammy’s and the Pulitzer Prize for Music, will go down in jazz history with the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, & Erroll Garner. Making the evening even more dramatic was the award-winning venue in downtown San Diego – Anthology on India Street. Anthology was voted the best restaurant and live music venue in 2008, and it was immediately evident why. The establishment recently celebrated its first anniversary and with $6.5 million invested it’s a stunning dining experience.

Wynton Marsalis typically finds himself appeasing crowds upwards to 10,000, but on Tuesday evening Anthology was at capacity for just a few hundred viewers. With first floor dining seats costing nearly $100 a piece, my lucky date and I purchased general admission tickets for $30 where we had a limited view but were still within 50 feet of the fifteen musicians. Another happy viewer who was enjoying his date and his martini’s more than the music, vacated his front row seat one song into the hour and a half set. Knowing an opportunity when I saw one, I tapped the man on the shoulder as he exited to the outdoor patio and one song into the performance my date and I were sitting front row for the remainder of the evening.

When the band took the stage, a stoic Wynton Marsalis soothingly announced to a silenced crowd, “We’re the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Thank you for letting us play for you.” The audience deemed the honor to be theirs erupting as the first song began. The Orchestra had as much fun as the crowd and it was evident that they were here to play for themselves. Incredible improv solos came out of the upright bass, grand piano, and soprano sax as the trombones and trumpets did battle all night. It will be some time before this kind of talent again graces a stage in San Diego.

The food was fantastic as we started with the Duet of Montrachet Goat Cheese Soufflés, Arugula, Port Poached Pears, Spiced Walnuts. Next on the menu was a fantastic grilled salmon followed by a trio of chocolate. We were first in line for the concert when the doors opened at 5:30 and there was some confusion with our order resulting in a wait of over an hour for the salmon to arrive. Quick to make up for the mistake, Anthology provided my date and myself our choice of tickets to an upcoming show. Professionalism at its best!

Anthology is the dream of CEO Howard Berkson who explains, "I grew up in Chicago where going out for a great meal paired with live music was part of the cultural experience... that's what I hope to create with Anthology. San Diego as a city has matured and we're ready for some of the visceral experiences you find in world-class cities like New York and Chicago.” Two thumbs up to a venue attracting the world’s top talent with a taste for excellence.

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