Marsalis Family - A Jazz Celebration

The Marsalis Family - A Jazz Celebration

by Marsalis Family
     
 
The Marsalis family -- the musical pride of present-day New Orleans -- is one talented jazz brood. On A Jazz Celebration, we get to hear the whole clan -- pianist, jazz educator, and patriarch Ellis; trumpeter Wynton; saxophonist Branford; trombonist Delfeayo; and drummer Jason -- interact at a special live performance to mark Ellis's 2001 retirement. Things

Overview

The Marsalis family -- the musical pride of present-day New Orleans -- is one talented jazz brood. On A Jazz Celebration, we get to hear the whole clan -- pianist, jazz educator, and patriarch Ellis; trumpeter Wynton; saxophonist Branford; trombonist Delfeayo; and drummer Jason -- interact at a special live performance to mark Ellis's 2001 retirement. Things haven’t always been so rosy between the two most famous Marsalis brothers, Wynton and Branford (something that the famed trumpeter alludes to in a brief spoken passage), but here familial harmony reigns. The pointedly titled “Cain and Abel” finds Wynton and Branford wrapping serpentine lines around the solid foundation of Jason’s percussion and the firm bass lines of Roland Guerin. Delfeayo gets his share of the spotlight with a luscious rendition of the 1947 Tyree Glenn piece “Sultry Serenade,” while Jason’s fills and solos give notice that this least-famous Marsalis is nonetheless a gifted player to be watched. The trumpet and saxophone solos may naturally garner the most attention, but it’s Marsalis père who contributes some of the most impressive improvisations. A subtle modernist, Ellis has a light touch that just sparkles on his features “After” and the standard “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” as well as on his sterling solos throughout the concert. Two special guests, former Ellis student Harry Connick Jr. and trombonist Lucien Barbarin, pop in for some fun on the exuberant finale pieces.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Collar
Barring the 1982 album Fathers and Sons and a brief and legendary pairing during the '80s, the Marsalis' have largely avoided playing together. It is almost as if despite becoming some of the most technically proficient and creative forces in music, appearing together would relegate them to a freakish gimmick or biological fluke and negate all their hard work as individuals. The truth is, though, that the public has always enjoyed and often demanded that the Marsalis clan appear together, and it is an exciting thing musically when they do. Wynton Marsalis' early recordings with his brother, such as Black Codes (From the Underground), are perhaps some of his most revelatory. Before he completely dedicated himself to single-handedly rebuilding the historical foundations of jazz, he was freed-up to investigate Ornette Coleman, late-period John Coltrane, and at least evince some classical notions into his jazz recordings. Perhaps Branford Marsalis benefited most from the eventual breakup with his brother, allowing him to find his voice exploring the realm of progressive popular music and world influences with Sting -- which led directly back to some of the most lively and relevant jazz recordings of the '80s and early '90s. However, it is legend in his own time Ellis Marsalis who started it all and whose tireless and subtle guidance inspired not only his sons, but many of their contemporaries to equally creative heights. All of this is evident in the live concert featured on The Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration, marking the first time that every Marsalis has performed together. Planned as a tribute to Ellis at the time of his retirement from teaching at New Orleans University in August of 2001, the live performance features the family patriarch alone at the piano as well as with his more outspoken sons. Given Wynton and Branford's idiosyncratic penchant for Ellington-influenced blues, odd time signatures, and in-your-face contrapuntal retorts, it is interesting to contrast Ellis' more laid-back approach, which brings to mind Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, and Dave Brubeck. Drummer Jason is a competent roil of energy, Delfeayo holds his own against fellow trombonist Lucien Barbarin, and honorary Marsalis bassist Roland Guerin rounds out the ensemble. Stylistically, the album flows from straight-ahead standards such as Ellis' solo spot on "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" to more progressive affairs like Branford and Wynton's reprisal of their avant-shared improvisation on "Cain and Abel" -- off the saxophonists' 1991 album The Beautyful Ones Are Not Born Yet. The ever-jovial Harry Connick, Jr. also makes an appearance to take a few humorous jabs at his former mentor as well as revisit his barroom roots on "Saint James Infirmary." However, the highlight of the concert has to be the album-closer, "Struttin' With Some Barbecue." Everyone, not the least Wynton, who opens the track with some inspired Buddy Bolden-like call and response, comes alive here with obvious love for their hometown traditions that have served them so well.
All About Jazz
The Marsalis brothers came to swing that August night in a fitting salute to their father’s musical legacy.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/04/2003
Label:
Marsalis Music
UPC:
0011661330221
catalogNumber:
613302

Tracks

  1. Swingin' at the Haven
  2. Surrey with the Fringe On Top
  3. Wynton Speaks
  4. Cain and Abel
  5. Nostalgic Impressions
  6. After
  7. Sultry Serenade
  8. Twelve's It
  9. Harry Speaks
  10. Saint James Infirmary
  11. Struttin' with Some Barbecue

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Marsalis Family   Primary Artist
Harry Connick   Piano
Ellis Marsalis   Piano
Lucien Barbarin   Trombone
Roland Guerin   Bass
Branford Marsalis   Saxophone
Wynton Marsalis   Trumpet
Delfeayo Marsalis   Trombone
Jason Marsalis   Drums

Technical Credits

Harry Connick   Composer
Ellis Marsalis   Composer,Liner Notes
Tyree Glenn   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Louis Armstrong   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Lil Hardin   Composer
Branford Marsalis   Composer,Liner Notes
Wynton Marsalis   Liner Notes
Delfeayo Marsalis   Liner Notes
Jason Marsalis   Liner Notes
John McClure   Producer,Engineer
Don Raye   Composer
Bob Blumenthal   Liner Notes
Stan Dacus   Engineer
Susan Presson   Live Assistant
Lil Hardin Armstrong   Composer

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