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Wynton MARSALIS – Mr. Jelly Lord 1999

Posted in JAZZ, Wynton MARSALIS on December 16, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Wynton MARSALIS – Mr. Jelly Lord 1999
Standard Time Volume 6

Jazz

Volume 6 Squared. Mr. Jelly Lord is cleverly Volume 6 in two different collections. It is Volume 6 in Marsalis’ continuing survey of the American Canon of standard tunes and it is also Volume 6 in his ambitious “Swinging into the Twenty-first Century” Series, slated for a total of 8 volumes. That is almost too cute. In fact, it would be too cute if this were not Marsalis’ greatest contribution to the digital gods.
What Music! Mr. Jelly Lord is as perfect a statement as anything Marsalis has committed to tape. Marsalis may be a great Ellingtonian, but he is a sublime interpreter of Jelly Roll Morton. Marsalis has a telepathic, light speed empathy with this music. He deftly mixes the old and the new with this music, somehow making the music move from myth to legend (Check out that swinging bridge in “Red Hot Pepper”). Marsalis’ arrangements are crystalline and delicate, yet durable and exciting. Breathtaking performance.

The Usual Suspects. Marsalis has many of his usual bandmates, many from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson provides his able alto saxophone with the ubiquitous Victor Goines providing his plethora of reeds. Again, Marsalis is licorice-stick heavy, having added Professor Michael White to the clarinet of Goines. The extraordinarily fine Wycliffe Gordon plays trombone, tuba and even trumpet on “Red Hot Pepper”. The aforementioned Dr. White shines brightly incandescent on “Deep Creek.” “Mamanita” is a vehicle for the amply talented Danilo Perez. “Sidewalk Blues” has an almost Vaudeville feel with its campy introduction.

Not Enough… …Can be said for this recording. I have often been critical to Marsalis’ mechanical and academic homage-paying to jazz, but this recording is as near a perfect and genuinely heartfelt performance as I have heard. Like Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven, so Marsalis playing Morton. Bravo!
C. Michael Bailey.
**
Of this, his latest effort, Wynton Marsalis says, “I wanted to, once again, reiterate the contemporary power of even the earliest jazz. Jelly Roll Morton’s music proves that all jazz is modern. His music captures the full range of New Orleans life. Jelly Roll Morton’s music, however, still applies to the New Orleans of today. It is dated neither in form nor feeling.”

“In New Orleans, we still play funerals and parades, we still have blues clubs, and we still have the same easy, poetic attitude toward the carnal. We still have the willingness, if the wrong thing is said at the wrong time, to sink all the way back to those ways that underlie the wild side of our reputation. Jelly Roll Morton knew all of that, and the music he wrote and spent so much time meticulously teaching his musicians, has grooves, emotions and forms that exist for the purpose of expressing those powerful New Orleans artistic sensibilities.”

“That is why I have always enjoyed playing Jelly Roll Morton’s music over the last twenty years. It has taught me a great deal about the meaning of jazz and it always refreshes your understanding of how timeless art is. What makes something art is that it’s true for the time in which it existed and remains true in the times that follow. Whenever you endeavor to play the music of Mr. Morton correctly, you discover that what he was doing is just as strong now as it was when he created it. His compositions tell the story of the eternal New Orleans, which is the eternal human story, the timeless thing that jazz musicians express when they master blues and swing.”

“In or out of jazz, there has never been a major composer who was quite like, or even near, Jelly Roll Morton. Morton was something. He had just about every kind of bad quality a human being could have and just about every trait necessary to prove himself a genius. He was a braggart; he was racially prejudiced; he sold poisonous snake oil door to door; he was a pool shark; he was a pimp; he was a sharp shooter, and he was a man who believed in his art as much as any great artist of any idiom has ever believed in the aesthetic form of choice.”

“He was the first who had serious theories about jazz, and all of them were correct. As much of a street thug, hustler, and self-promoter as he might have been, Morton was the initial intellectual to enter the music. His impact was profound, whether it was on those he taught to play as he rambled from state to state or those such as Duke Ellington. All were indelibly touched. Morton understood how form should be manipulated and he recognized the importance of dynamic shifts and improvisations to intensify the quality of compositions. There was a rather direct relationship between his music and his life. Our first great composer of jazz had an epic sense of life. He played in parades, hung out in after-hours joints where the high and the low class gathered to pursue joy. His piano provided the live soundtrack for whorehouse erotic melodramas. He heard the most primitive blues sung by New Orleans dock workers. The worst side of the criminal life was familiar to him and Morton also spoke of women belting out the blues from their doorways. He heard that music of the opera and the symphony and recognized that jazz should contain the best elements of the musical gutbucket as well as the technical penthouse. The mixed parentage of jazz was obvious and it was Morton who recognized the essential significance of riffs and of the Afro-Hispanic rhythms he called “the Spanish tinge.”

Wynton Marsalis, who is easily the most gifted and the most sophisticated musician of his generation, has brought together young musicians to play his music just as someone in the European idiom would bring young musicians together to play the music of the Eighteenth Century, and for the same reason. When you get into the profound, those who started it all or put the first serious refinements on it, or foresaw what could be done by doing everything possible at the time, you not only instruct those performers in ways that will influence whatever they do in whatever style, you also reiterate the fact that in human terms there is no past, only a present when it comes to art. This is what this recording is all about. Here you will witness just how well musician, who have no problems addressing the sweep of their art, perform the work of Jelly Roll Morton. From the clarity of the ensembles to the wring of the group, to the precision, wit, lyricism, and fire of their improvisations, they achieve victories of the very same quality that they do when Marsalis and his players address any kind of jazz, whether basic, in the middle or all the way out of the frontier where blues and swing are given extraordinary reinterpretations. Here, with the same kind of authority Kenneth Branaugh brought to his Henry V. Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet, they let us know that old and new are only as meaningful as the material and the artists who give it life or fail to do so. In this case, life brims up out of every note, just as Mr. Jelly Lord intended.
By Stanley Crouch.
**
Wynton Marsalis appears to have been as prolific a recording studio denizen as was his late mentor, Miles Davis. So apparently overcrowded are the Columbia vaults with Marsalis sessions that Wynton is concluding an unprecedented blitz of seven recordings in seven months, including suites, standards and homage dates. Mr. Jelly Lord falls in the latter category as Marsalis leads 12 members of his broadening crew of familiars through 15 gems Jelly Roll Morton left here for us to learn. Befitting the historic importance, not to mention self-importance of Mr. Jelly Lord, as the iconoclastic, brilliant, often profane Morton was known, the music is addressed by no fewer than four very divergent pianists: Eric Lewis, Eric Reed, Danilo Perez, and Harry Connick, Jr.
As the tracks wend their way through familiar bits of Morton’s repertoire like “Red Hot Pepper”, “King Porter Stomp”, and “The Pearls”, alternated with lesser-knowns like “Sidewalk Blues” and “Dead Man Blues”, the impression that Marsalis has invested considerable time digging through Morton’s muse is clear. And thankfully the band does not address Jelly’s music as period pieces, but on Wynton’s own terms; not as deconstructionist, but as reverent update. Hewing to the tradition of this music, while giving it a contemporary polish is no small feat, yet it is accomplished here with aplomb. Hear, for example, his spare arrangement of “King Porter Stomp” – muted trumpet with piano accompaniment, achieving a relaxed and soulful approach to the classic.
By Willard Jenkins.
**
Wynton Marsalis’s century-closing series of jazz and classical recordings isn’t nearly the pulse-quickening excursion one might expect, what with all the fanfare and all the years the vaunted trumpeter has spent in the limelight. That said, his nod to Jelly Roll Morton is probably one of the better Marsalis recordings available. It’s got enough rules built in–compositional economy, instrumental variation, etc.–that it disciplines the trumpeter’s more ambitious tendencies. In the liner notes, Marsalis describes Morton dually as a jazz intellectual and a streetwise hustler, and anyone familiar with Morton will know the characterization is apt. Marsalis’s read of Morton, however, skips the street hustle and instead focuses on cleanly drawn portraits that amount to fine repertory pieces, works akin to chamber music in their ultimate impact. That’s not so much of a putdown as it might seem, as African-American composers are so rarely treated the way European and Euro-American composers are. Morton knew this and wrote his way around it, much as Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus did. And Jelly Roll’s stomping-good-time melodies are here to show his knowledge of both his audience and his compositional chops. But if you’re expecting something innovative or hair-raising in the way of Marsalis rediscovering an untapped Jelly Roll vein, you’ll be greeted instead with full-bore, horn-rich charts that swing strongly. And that ain’t half bad.
By Andrew Bartlett. AMG.
Wynton Marsalis- Trumpet;
Eric Lewis- Piano;
Reginald Veal- Bass;
Wycliffe Gordon- Trombone, Tuba, and Trumpet;
Lucien Barbarin, Wessell Anderson- Alto Saxophone;
Victor Goines- Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet;
Michael White- Clarinet;
Donald Vappie- Banjo, Guitar;
Danilo Perez- Piano;
Harry Connick, Jr.- Piano;
Eric Reed:- Piano;
Herlin Riley- Drums.
**
01. Red Hot Pepper 3:42
02. New Orleans Bump 4:36
03. King Porter Stomp 3:13
04. The Pearls 3:55
05. Deep Creek 5:16
06. Mamanita 2:51
07. Sidewalk Blues 5:14
08. Jungle Blues 6:51
09. Big Lip Blues 3:20
10. Dead Man Blues 4:44
11. Smokehouse Blues 4:54
12. Billy Goat Stomp 3:02
13. Courthouse Bump 3:31
14. Black Bottom Stomp 4:23
15. Tom Cat Blues 2:14
**

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Wynton MARSALIS – Thick in the South (Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol.1) 1994

Posted in JAZZ, Wynton MARSALIS on November 19, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Wynton MARSALIS – Thick in the South (Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol.1) 1994

Jazz

“Thick In The South: Soul Gestures In Southern Blue, Vol. 1” is a great release for Wynton Marsalis who not only plays exceptional trumpet, but also writes great compositions. Having listened to, “Black Codes (From The Underground,” this is a very different approach for Wynton. It’s alot more laid-back then “Black Codes,” but this doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
All of the musicians (as usual) are stellar. Wynton is joined by Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Marcus Roberts (piano), Bob Hurst (bass), and Elvin Jones, Jeff Watts (drums). Again, Wynton surrounds himself with two jazz legends like Henderson and Jones, but don’t let their star status outshine the other musicians who turn in an equally great performance.
“Thick In The South: Soul Gestures In Southern Blue, Vol. 1” was released in 1991 and is apart of a fantastic series, which like other reviewers have said, is overlooked and underrated.
If you’re a fan of bebop and post-bop, then you should really check out this series.
Soul Gestures In Southern Blue:
Thick In The South, Volume 1
Uptown Ruler, Volume 2
Moan Low Levee, Volume 3
By  J. Rich.
**
Joe Henderson- Tenor and Soprano Sax
Marcus Roberts- Piano
Wynton Marsalis- Trumpet
Robert Hurst- Bass
Jeff Watts- Drums
Elvin Jones- Drums
**
01. Harriet Tubman 7:39
02. Elveen 12:12
03. Thick in the South 10:14
04. So This Is Jazz, Huh? 12:25
05. L.C. On the Cut 13:29
**

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Wynton MARSALIS – From The Plantation To The Penitentiary 2007

Posted in JAZZ, Wynton MARSALIS on November 17, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Wynton MARSALIS – From The Plantation To The Penitentiary 2007
Recorded on June 28 & 29, 2006

Jazz

By turns soothing, urgent, playful, and angry, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary distills Marsalis’ recent observations on our modern American way of life as he’s traveled the nation as a performer, teacher, and private citizen. Through the sultry alto of 21-year old singer Jennifer Sanon, he gives voice to the “tattered ragmen” of America in Find Me, rebukes our misogynistic entertainment industry- “I ain’t no bitch and I ain’t your ho”- in The Return of Romance, and denounces the uncontrolled financial exploitation of modern America in which “there’s never enough” in the frantic Super Capitalism. The most striking track on the album is Where Y’all At?, a rare spoken-word vocal performance by Marsalis, in which he demands to know what’s happened to all the responsible leaders in America- Where y’all at?

The album has its bright moments as well: the languid These Are Those Soulful Days was inspired by the diehard, bicoastal friendship between his 10-year old son and Walter Blanding’s 11-year old twin daughters that these three have maintained almost since birth, while the bouncy and soulful instrumental Doin Our Thing lets Marsalis and his band interpret various types of 4/4 grooves anchored, of course, by the swing.
The seven tracks on the album are all new compositions, with lyrics and music by Wynton Marsalis.
**
Walter Blanding- Tenor, Soprano Saxophones
Jennifer Sanon- Vocals
Dan Nimmer- Piano
Carlos Henriquez- Bass
Ali Jackson- Drums
**
01. From The Plantation To The Penitentiary   11:49
02. Find Me   9:33
03. Doin’ Your Thing   8:37
04. Love And Broken Hearts  7:40
05. Supercapitalism   6:55
06. These Are Those Soulful Days   8:04
07. Where Y’all At?   5:48
**

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