Big Train

Big Train

by Wynton Marsalis
     
 

Although Wynton Marsalis's BIG TRAIN is an ambitious original work, the engineer driving it is certainly Duke Ellington. The ultimate musical chronicler of the romance of the rails, Ellington composed many of his finest pieces in tribute to his preferred means of transportation - - "Across the Tracks Blues," Daybreak Express," "Happy Go-Lucky Local," among them --… See more details below

Overview

Although Wynton Marsalis's BIG TRAIN is an ambitious original work, the engineer driving it is certainly Duke Ellington. The ultimate musical chronicler of the romance of the rails, Ellington composed many of his finest pieces in tribute to his preferred means of transportation - - "Across the Tracks Blues," Daybreak Express," "Happy Go-Lucky Local," among them -- pieces that Marsalis obviously reveres. In fact, BIG TRAIN can be heard as his own homage to Ellington's earlier masterpieces. Utilizing the mighty engine of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to its fullest extent, Marsalis obtains a full, charging ensemble sound, one that pulls out of the station roaring and gets to its destination in tip-top shape and right on time. Not that the sterling individualists of the band are slighted: BIG TRAIN is filled with top-notch solos from trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, saxophonists Ted Nash and Walter Blanding Jr., trumpeters Ryan Kissor and Marcus Printup, and pianist Farid Barron, among others. And yes, the leader/composer gives himself a few tastes, solo spots that proclaim his virtuosity and vigor. If Marsalis's writing isn't as highly charged as his, or the band's, playing, it remains almost cinematic in its vision of barreling train travel and visceral power. You may be reminded of Duke at times, but when it comes to the lyrical language of the locomotive, what better model is there?

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard S. Ginell
On 1999's Big Train, Marsalis tries on the mantle of Duke Ellington in the latter's centennial year and finds that it suits him. A 52-minute big band suite modeled after Ellington's long-form essays, it purports to evoke the moods, sounds and feelings of a cross-country train trip with selections named after a train's various cars. Like an Ellington suite, the sections run together; after the striking "All Aboard," you're in Ellington country, right down to the plunger mute wah-wah riffs. "Union Pacific" paraphrases "Rockin' in Rhythm"; the ballad "Sleeper Car" evokes Johnny Hodges and Tricky Sam Nanton quite explicitly. Inevitably, there's a track called "Night Train"; thankfully, its bossa nova flavor has nothing to do with Duke's piece. Marsalis has mastered the Ellington idiom, writing and organizing the piece skillfully and getting the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to play with precision and emotion. Yet the one thing that Ellington (and Billy Strayhorn) could do and Marsalis has yet to demonstrate is the ability to come up with a big, memorable tune; there's craft, emotion, and swing, but little else to take home with you. If you didn't know that this work was about trains, you might not guess it; you can't really feel the rocking, chugging, streamlined motion of the rails in this work. There is fine soloing all around in the hard bop tradition from Wessell Anderson, Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon, Ted Nash and Walter Blanding, Jr., though the liner fails to note which of the multiple tenor, alto, trombone players are soloing on which tracks. But overall, this is one of Marsalis' better extended form essays.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/13/1999
Label:
Sony Mod - Afw Line
UPC:
0074646986028
catalogNumber:
69860
Rank:
232667

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Wynton Marsalis   Primary Artist,Trumpet
Joe Temperley   Bass Clarinet,Bass Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Ryan Kisor   Trumpet
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Herlin Riley   Drums
Wessell Anderson   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Victor Goines   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon   Trombone,Tuba
Ron Westray   Trombone
Rodney Whitaker   Bass
Marcus Printup   Trumpet
Riley Mullins   Trumpet
Wayne Goodman   Trombone
Ted Nash   Clarinet,Flute,Bass Clarinet,Piccolo,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Doug Wamble   Banjo,Guitar
Farid Barron   Piano
Seneca Black   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Stanley Crouch   Liner Notes
Delfeayo Marsalis   Producer
Patrick Smith   Engineer
John Matousek   Mastering
Kiku   Art Direction

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