Marsalis’ Trumpet Sings and Swings

Perhaps as part of his coal to bring dancers back to jazz music, Wynton Marsalis invests everything he plays with an infectious swine.
Trumpeter-bandleader Marsalis his septet through a dancing two hour show Friday night at Lied Center for the Performing Arts, then for an encore capped it off with a blistering of the bebop classic “Cherokee”.

Sporting, a mustard-colored sport jacket, Marsalis was much more relaxed and informal in appearance and in his playing than he was in the past. Perhaps turning 30 last month mellowed him.
Marsalis began with his composition “In the Court of King Oliver, a tribute to the great New Orleans trumpeter King Oliver. Echoing the joyous sounds that first rang from the Crescent City more than 70 years ago, Marsalis used a mute and his hand to simulate laughter and give a human void to his horn.

ELLINGTON’S “Play the Blues and Go” featured the imaginative and driving keyboard work of Stephen Scott substituting for Marsalis’ regular pianist Farid Barron. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon added a bluesy, plunger-muted solo.
Backed only by Scott, bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Herlin Riley, Marsalis insinuated a repeated two-note phrase throughout a warm and wistful reading of the ballad “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” His luxuriant tone made the sad melody cry!

From the recently released trilogy “Soul Gestures in Southern Blue” came “Uptown Ruler,” a tune of ritual power based on New Orleans legend.
Riley, like Marsalis a New Orleans native, worked his magic by chanting, beating a tambourine, rubbing the drum skins with his hands and firing skittering rimshots.

THE BAND DID a breezy take on “Just Friends,” then explored Ellington’s “Caravan” with a four-horn front line that attacked the melody from different angles, heightening the effect of the exotic composition.
Appropriately, the band went out with a New Orleans-style funeral dirge, followed by a swaggering street parade march, with the traditional clarinet line taken by Herb Harris on soprano sax.
The sellout audience came to its feet to bring the band back for an encore.

Marsalis on muted horn, Wessell Anderson on alto sax, Harris and Gordon all turned in lickety-split solos on the evergreen “Cherokee.” Anderson’s playing was especially inspired all evening. Only Harris’ playing on tenor sax was less than inspired on some of the uptempo numbers, the true test of matching imagination with execution.

by Tom Ineck
Source: Lincoln Journal-Star

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