New Wynton, No Wonderland
ON THE RECENT ALBUM “Carnaval,” jazz superstar Wynton Marsalis joins Donald Hunsberger and the Eastman Wind Ensemble in the kind of program that an American band might have played at the turn of the century from the bandstand in the town park.
Marsalis plays technically showy cornet on this precisely arranged, nostalgic set of light classical and folk tunes.
This record may resemble a museum exhibit, but the items are chosen for their accessibility and the display is thoroughly professional.
The precise, nostalgic feel unfortunately carries over to Marsalis’ new jazz release, “Marsalis Standard Time — Volume I.” Working with his regular quartet, the virtuoso young trumpeter tackles such old warhorses as Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves,” Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” and Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.”
These are the same tunes you can hear on any night in any jazz club in the world. Although the Wynton Marsalis Quartet plays them better than any club combo you’re likely to encounter, they break no new ground. It’s as though Marsalis is intent instead on providing the definitive version by applying his incomparable exactness of phrasing and tone.
It’s a curiously conservative, rear-guard action for a 26-year-old jazz musician.
It hardly helps that, after several purges, Jeff Watts is the only musician left in Marsalis’ group who can really challenge the leader.
by Geoffrey Himes
Source: The Washington Post