By Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

We always knew Victor Goines to be a first-rate clarinetist-saxophonist. On Friday evening, a standing-room-only crowd at Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, in Evanston, learned of his prowess as composer.

For Goines led the Northwestern University Jazz Orchestra — augmented by alums and Chicago professionals — in an ambitious, evening-length traversal of his own music. Two extensive Goines suites, each designed to evoke a particular time and place in American culture, made this concert a test for all involved.

Orchestral players would have to finesse the multiple technical hurdles Goines had written into his “Crescent City” and “Benny Goodman: Then, Now, Forever!” The concert’s soloists — saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Victor Garcia and Goines himself — would face still more formidable instrumental challenges in sprawling, multimovement works. And Goines, director of jazz studies at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music and a key player in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, would reveal whether he can write as well as he plays.

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  • Victor Goines