It is rather easy these days to talk about a rising star in jazz since the entire team concept from basketball to music has turned to star recognition. However, upon a recent visit to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (Jazz at Lincoln Center), it was quite evident the star of the hour was not an individual musician, but the all-inclusive New Century Jazz Quintet.

The young band, with a crisp freshness and making their New York City debut, featured trumpeter Benny Benack, alto saxophonist Braxton Cook (sitting in for Tim Green), pianist Takeshi Obayashi, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., with special guest David Deats on trombone.

The quintet, co-founded by Owens and Obayashi, has only been out of its embryotic shell for a year. The group has advanced into an intuitive swing machine with a musical force that harks back to the likes of Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley and Art Blakey.

These young musicians play right in the pocket with a post-bop edge, where dancing may soon be allowed. Their solos were never over-extended or involved a hard wailin’ mode, but rather were fueled with a sound that stuck to the soul of your ribs. Each musician had ample opportunity to share their voice and swing in the jazz tradition. The shouts and loud applauds were well deserved.

Owens noted he and the band were honored to have their debut at Dizzy’s on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. He acknowledged King’s significance to the Civil Rights Movement and the presence of Dr. Cornel West, a scholar, activist and jazz lover. Owens stated, “New Century believes music can be the universal music.”

Cook noted he had very little time to practice with the band, but the audience never noticed. His energetic riffs weaved in and out of the group’s textured flow. Still a student at Juilliard School of Music, Cook holds down a regular chair with Christian aTunde Adjuah’s (Christian Scott) ensemble, an ecletic group that rallies between fusion and jazz. Owens noted with a smile, “Yeah, sometimes we have to hold him back.”

New Century’s dark suits and ties noted a flair for style. “I learned from watching Wynton Marsalis and the orchestra that you have to be dressed,” said Owens. “All of the old-school cats like Miles and Art Blakey were always dressed.”

For the evening, the group played original music and a few standards. On their CD “Time Is Now,” seven of the 10 tracks are originals. Their rendition of “Pure Imagination” brought another dimension to the well-traveled ballad written by Anthony Newly. Michael Dease acted as the special guest trombonist.

The quintet has already toured 13 cities in Japan in conjunction with their Japanese record label and are now looking forward to touring in the U.S.

Obayashi’s “New Century” tune kicks the CD off on a blazing note, with everyone flexing in a spirited tone—a great example of how these young jazzmen can groove together in the moment. Obayashi handles the piano with virtuosity. Formerly from Hiroshima, he now lives in Washington Heights.

On the cut “Tongue Twister,” Green romps with a smooth but hitting flow intertwined with Dease’s fluctuating trombone. On the tune “London Town,” written by Benack, he takes the lead before giving the front line to Green mingling with rhythmic piano chords, Nakamura’s deep bass notes and a taste of drums.

Owens, like the rest of the members, keeps a busy schedule with a steady chair with bassist Christian McBride. He has appeared with vocalist Kurt Elling, Nicholas Payton, Benny Golson and Maceo Parker. With his varied sound, he is one of the young guns, a go-to drummer on the jazz scene.

New Century is the perfect title for this quintet, boasting an energetic sound that reflects their individuality bouncing in the tradition of jazz. Just check their cut “Festi-Vibe”—it jumps. “Time Is Now” is well-worth getting, and New Century is well-worth seeing on any occasion.

Romare Bearden’s works illustrate that jazz and art are part of the same impromptu canvas. So it should come as no surprise to hear Jazz and Colors is back with “The Masters Edition” setting, jazz master works to be performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Jan. 30, featuring two sets at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Jazz performances by 15 ensembles will take place simultaneously in galleries located around the museum. Visitors will be invited to sample the sounds and styles of an eclectic range of groups from small combos to larger ensembles as they play the same program of jazz masterworks simultaneously in galleries throughout the Met.

The first set will feature the master works of Edgar Sampson, “Stompin’ at the Savoy”; Cole Porter, “Night & Day”; Duke Ellington, “Take the A Train”; Johnny Green, “Body and Soul”; Thelonious Monk, “Straight, No Chaser”; and Charles Mingus, “Good Bye Pork Pie Hat.”

The second set will feature the works of: Sonny Rollins, “St. Thomas”; Miles Davis, “All Blues”; Lee Morgan, “The Sidewinder”; Ornette Coleman, “Lonely Woman”; Alice Coltrane, “Blue Nile”; and Max Roach, “Freedom Day.”

Some of the performing groups will include saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin and Soulsquad with voclaist Charenee Wade, keyboardist Aaron Swinnerton, drummer Eric Brown and bassist Brian Cockerham. One of the more explosive configurations will be the Marvin Sewell Group, with Swewll on guitar, Sam Newsome on soprano sax, the ever-exciting keyboardist James Hurt, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Darrel Green. The exploring clarinetist Don Byron will appear with Kris Davis on piano, Brad Jones on bass and Bruce Cox on drums. Other groups featured include the Brandee Younger Jazz Harp Quartet and Mino Cinelu’s World Jazz Trio.

This event is free with museum admission and offers jazz hipsters and art lovers an opportunity to merge under one groove. For updates and more information, visit or