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Popular Songs: The Best of Wynton Marsalis
     

Popular Songs: The Best of Wynton Marsalis

by Wynton Marsalis
 

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Having severed contractual relations with Wynton Marsalis on the eve of his 20th anniversary with the label, it hasn't taken Columbia Records long to mine the trumpet superstar's 30-plus albums' worth of back catalogue. Their first salvo is Popular Songs, for which producer Nedra Olds-Neal has selected eight Marsalis originals and four jazz standards waxed

Overview

Having severed contractual relations with Wynton Marsalis on the eve of his 20th anniversary with the label, it hasn't taken Columbia Records long to mine the trumpet superstar's 30-plus albums' worth of back catalogue. Their first salvo is Popular Songs, for which producer Nedra Olds-Neal has selected eight Marsalis originals and four jazz standards waxed between 1985 and 1999, primarily focusing in small-group contexts. Popular Songs opens with an early Septet track, the Crescent City-flavored "Jig's Jig" (1988). It moves to the polytonal blues "Root Groove" (1997) (the sole representation of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra) and continues with the ballads "I Got Lost in Her Arms" and "Where or When," performed by Marsalis with rhythm section. The mood shifts with an up-tempo "Cherokee" (a homage to trumpet hero Clifford Brown), then gears up to overdrive with the odd-metered burnout tune "Black Codes" (1985) by Marsalis' influential mid-'80s quintet. There follows the formally complex "Double Rondo on the River (Pedro's Getaway)" (1990) by the Septet, the meandering "Down Home with Homey" (1988, Quintet), and the stirring, technically challenging "Sunflowers" (1999, Septet). The program winds down with the Ellingtonian "Invitation" (1994) and an intimate melody-reading of the popular '50s standard "End of a Love Affair" (1991); concluding matters is the rousing "Soon All Will Know" (1987), an up-blues with a Milesian tinge. You can't include everything in a CD overview, and Olds-Neal's selections comprise a representative cross section of Marsalis' themes and interests. This is a good place for those who only know Marsalis' classical and ballads albums to begin their meatier explorations. That said, Olds-Neal's omissions are striking. Absent, for example, are selections from Marsalis' Pulitzer-winning "Blood on the Fields," his superb arrangements of Jelly Roll Morton material: Standard Time, Vol. 6: Mr. Jelly Lord, an excellent quintet session featuring Joe Henderson and Elvin Jones: Thick in the South: Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol. 1, the no-holds-barred quartet album Live at Blues Alley, and the transitional J Mood. Which means there's ample opportunity for the label to issue more compilations, thus ensuring that for the remainder of his career Marsalis will compete against himself in the marketplace.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Oh, the delicious irony of the title! Because, as you educated and erudite readers know, Mr. Wynton Marsalis is not fond at all of popular music, so the very fact that there are popular tunes within his catalog is nearly anathema to his aesthetic. But, given his stature as an ambassador of jazz (for the record, I once considered myself the ambassador of techno, but then I realized that anyone who considers the Stones the greatest band ever should graciously defer that title), and given the prominence of his role in Ken Burns' Jazz, there was a need for a sampler like this record, and hence the appearance of Popular Songs: The Best of Wynton Marsalis in the summer of 2001. Marsalis has recorded a lot of music -- and I mean a lot of music -- for Columbia. It's inevitable that the selections here are open for dispute, but it's still a little puzzling that much of this album bypasses the music that brought him to the spotlight (only "Black Codes" is here from his early-'80s albums), favoring the endless Standard Time series. This is accessible, enjoyable music -- there's a reason Marsalis coined these as standards -- and, as such, it's good for listeners who want a sampling of Marsalis at his easiest and most enjoyable, but it's hardly a definitive, or even representative, retrospective of Marsalis' career.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/31/2001
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0696998549623
catalogNumber:
85496

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Jig's Jig
  2. Root Groove
  3. I Got Lost In Her Arms
  4. Where Or When
  5. Cherokee
  6. Black Codes
  7. Double Rondo On The River (Pedro's Getaway)
  8. Down Home With Homey
  9. Sunflowers
  10. Invitation
  11. The End Of A Love Affair
  12. Soon All Will Know

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Wynton Marsalis   Primary Artist,Trumpet,Conductor
Harry Edison   Trumpet
Kenny Kirkland   Piano
Ellis Marsalis   Piano
Marcus Roberts   Piano
Kent Jordan   Flute,Piccolo
Herlin Riley   Drums
Reginald Veal   Bass
Lewis Nash   Drums
Jeff "Tain" Watts   Drums
Wessell Anderson   Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Robert Freedman   Conductor
Victor Goines   Clarinet,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Branford Marsalis   Soprano Saxophone
Charnett Moffett   Bass
Ron Westray   Trombone
Rodney Whitaker   Bass
Todd Williams   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Ben Wolfe   Bass
Marcus Printup   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Bronislaw Kaper   Composer
Stanley Crouch   Liner Notes
Robert Freedman   Arranger
Wynton Marsalis   Producer
Delfeayo Marsalis   Producer
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Janush Kawa   Cover Art
Edward Redding   Composer

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