Marsalis’ music best thing since sliced (nut) bread

In Biblical terms, finding fault with God is virtually an impossible task. In jazz terms, Wynton Marsalis is God.
Take the hint. If there is such a thing as musical perfection, Marsalis and his dazzling quartet showed it last night at Vanderbilt’s Langford Auditorium. The concert was nothing less than brilliant, two hours of rich, creamy, soulful music oozing straight from the million-dollar lips of unarguably the world’s best trumpeter.

Marsalis, cooly walking on stage in a gold vest and gray slacks, started the show with Careless Love, an up-tempo New Orleans tune that set the pace for an evening in which the Grammy Award winner hit hard with his forte: speedy, piano-drum-bass-fortified songs from an array of eras.
No matter whose pieces Marsalis used – throughout the evening he payed tribute to such legends as Doc Severinsen, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington – the consistent element was a smoothness that glides from the 33-year-old’s trumpet like water down a sheet of ice.

Marsalis was in perfect tune with drummer Ali Jackson, bassist Rueben Rogers and pianist Eric Reed, all of whom complemented the trumpet perfectly. Throughout the show Marsalis would often play his piece, step back and let the band fire away in a perfect harmony. It was exciting yet symbolic, the leader Marsalis standing back, tapping on the piano top while Reed, Jackson and Rogers did their thing.
Despite a somewhat rocky public image that increased late last year from a racial dispute with organizers of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis played, toyed and teased with the audience throughout the night. He made several jokes, once teasing with Reed about having to record every gig. A highlight came before Darleen’s Blues, when Marsalis told the story of the song’s namesake.

“When you’re on the road, the only thing you really remember from place to place is what you had to eat” he said, trying not to laugh. “So whenever you have the opportunity to get a real meal – especially soul food – you jump at it”
Darleen, it turns out is the wife of Marsalis’ bus driver. She lives in Nashville. She was in the audience. That’s where he ate last night “We got some great nut bread from Darleen,” he added. “And her husband said we had to make sure she stands up.”

Darleen stood, and Marsalis played, using the plunger to tie powerful blasts and up-and-down “wa was” into another strong tune. Once again, Marsalis made the trumpet speak. To some it was a small child crying for a piece of Darleen’s nut bread. To others it was the old grump man complaining that it was too dry. God created man. Wynton created voices. Is there that big a difference?

By Jeff Pearlman
Source: The Tennessean

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