From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

by Wynton Marsalis
     
 
As Bob Dylan once sang, “We live in a political world,” and that observation hasn’t been missed by Wynton Marsalis. Through the use of original songs that make use of hard-hitting lyrical content, the noted trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and jazz spokesperson addresses what he perceives as the cultural and social breakdown of our country, with special light thrown

Overview

As Bob Dylan once sang, “We live in a political world,” and that observation hasn’t been missed by Wynton Marsalis. Through the use of original songs that make use of hard-hitting lyrical content, the noted trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and jazz spokesperson addresses what he perceives as the cultural and social breakdown of our country, with special light thrown on the African-American community. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of vital improvising from all the participating instrumentalists, including saxophonist Walter Blanding Jr. and pianist Dan Nimmer, as well as the bountifully gifted leader, but the brunt of our attention gets naturally pulled to the words of such highly charged statements as “Supercapitalism” and the title track. The biggest surprise may be Marsalis’ own fervent rapping on the concluding “Where Y’all At?,” which decries the loss of solid political leadership. Marsalis has the benefit of the arresting singer Jennifer Sanon, whose clear-voiced passion brings a no-nonsense intensity to this ambitious project. Yes, this music still calls on the swinging mainstream jazz that WM is always championing, but its reliance on often confrontational lyrical content takes the music into another dimension altogether. It’s a bold, unashamedly direct statement, but Marsalis wouldn’t have it any other way.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Collar
On "Where Y'all At?," the last track off trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' 2007 studio album From the Plantation to the Penitentiary, Marsalis delivers a spoken word tirade against everything from the demise of socially conscious hip-hop and misguided politicians to America's commercial and capitalist culture. He asks, "All you '60s radicals and world beaters, righteous revolutionaries, Camus readers, liberal students, equal rights pleaders, what's going on now that y'all are the leaders?!" It's a stunning track that perfectly states what the oft-quoted and often outspoken Marsalis is angry about. While musically he may be a traditionalist, here we find him in a vitriolic, forward-thinking mood. Long an outspoken figure in the jazz world and a lightning rod for debate over what constitutes the so called "jazz tradition," Marsalis is less concerned about the direction of jazz music here and more about the direction of American society. Obviously spurred on by the war in Iraq, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina (which ravaged his hometown of New Orleans), and what he clearly views as a gluttonous, vapid, misogynist and deeply racist American culture, Marsalis has crafted a bluesy, cerebral, soul-inflected album reminiscent of work by such iconic artists as Charles Mingus and Nina Simone. Adding weight to these comparisons is newcomer vocalist Jennifer Sanon, whose Simone-meets-Blossom Dearie style, featured throughout, adds a warm, melodic pathos to Marsalis' stark, spiritual and '50s Beat-influenced songs. This may not be the most musically avant-garde or boundary-pushing album, but it is a deeply personal and grounded creative statement, which is fascinating coming from an artist of Marsalis' stature and mainstream popularity.
New York Times - Nate Chinen
[Marsalis's] new quintet album delivers a fresh jolt to the system, by blowing apart the refuge of allegory.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/06/2007
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
0094637367520
catalogNumber:
73675

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