Marsalis, quintet shine
Wynton Marsalis skipped back to his 2004 CD, ‘‘The Magic Hour,” for most of the material his quintet played at Sanders Theatre on Sunday, passing over the covers that fuel the more recent ‘‘Live at the House of Tribes” in favor of the trumpeter’s whimsical originals.
The late-afternoon set opened with the older disc’s title tune, with Marsalis’s dazzling nod to ‘‘Flight of the Bumblebee” at its front end, and tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding Jr. coming in behind the leader with a solo reminiscent of Lester Young. The group (which also includes pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist Carlos Henriquez, and drummer Ali Jackson) served up the slight ‘‘You & Me,” ‘‘Skipping,” featuring Blanding on curved soprano sax, and the waltz ‘‘Sophie Rose-Rosalee.”
Marsalis, as usual, played with unbeatable technique, and if the music seemed curiously clinical at times, he humanized it with his between-tune tales concerning the merits of barbecue and the blues and how Ray Brown and Milt Jackson put him in his place many years ago when they let him sit in with them as a teenager.
Marsalis has become well-known for introducing young jazz talent, and he was especially generous in that regard on Sunday. Nimmer, still in his early 20s, is the latest in a line of Marsalis piano discoveries. He showed exquisite touch and taste throughout Sunday’s performance, but nowhere more so than in his rollicking solo on the Ben Webster-Harry ‘‘Sweets” Edison blues ‘‘Better Go.”
Marsalis also introduced an impressive vocalist, 20-year-old Jennifer Sanon, who bravely and gracefully tackled four standards: ‘‘I’m Just a Lucky So and So,” ‘‘Azalea,” ‘‘Them There Eyes,” and the encore, ‘‘Comes Love.”
Marsalis had a young alto saxophonist just out of high school, Aaron Holbrook, sit in with him on a slow blues toward the end of the set. The trumpeter was at his show-offy best here, setting the stage for the kid by using a white bowler hat as a mute for a blues- and effects-laden solo. Holbrook followed with a commendable solo, not as virtuosic as Marsalis’s but solidly constructed. Then Marsalis stepped back up with another humdinger on open trumpet.
By Bill Beuttler
Source: Boston Globe