Passion, precision make Marsalis a winner

Nobody would argue that trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the most talked about and exciting artist to make the jazz scene in the 1980s. His superior trumpet skills and revitalization of traditional (i.e. pre-fusion) jazz has reached a wide audience and earned him many prestigious awards.

The only knock against the New Orleans musician is that his playing lacks in emotion. Certainly, the last time Marsalis Marsalis and his five musical mates, including stellar pianist Marcus Roberts, turned in a sizzling jazz concert that left the audience shaking their heads in amazement at this band’s abilities and soulfulness.

The Sextet may have played a lot of standards – Caravan, I’ll Remember April, Chasin’ The Bird – but there was nothing backward-looking about this show. Marsalis and his two accompanying saxophonists excelled at intricate horn lines that weaved in and out of each other. They were simultaneously clever – especially when they added a New Orleans flavor to Charlie Parker’s Chasin’ The Bird – and compelling. Backed by a superb rhythm section, highlighted by the inventive and dynamic drumming of Herlin Riley, the songs churned and burned with a passion for jazz.

And when Marsalis played a romantic, tranquil trumpet solo, the audience was listening so intently you could have heard a pin drop. Dressed in smart-looking suits and playing with smiles on their faces, the Sextet conjured up the spirit of jazz greats from over the decades, such as Duke Ellington, Parker and Miles Davis.

The concert proved that Marsalis is not just a gifted jazz scholar but a musician who is now capable of summoning up the emotional depth of jazz at its finest. Bravo.

By James Muretich
Source: Calgary Herald

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