Young trumpet sensation sharpens rough edges

It’s Grammy Awards Time – when the music industry recognizes “deserving” artists. Or in other words, when it pays glowing tributes to artists who attract the largest audience and pull in the biggest bucks.

Nominations were recently announced for this annual farce that continually ignores the truly creative musicians. But this year, those making the decisions finally took off their binders.
They had no choice to recognize Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis plays to packed halls and his albums sell well. But unlike many other commercially successful musicians, he is incredibly talented and deserves the tribute of receiving four Grammy nominations in both jazz and classical categories.

The 22 year old trumpet sensation opened a 10 day stint at the Plazzaz Wednesday with some dynamic and emotional playing, and immediately established his presence.

Marsalis and his group began with Hesitation, a tune characterized by its unusual melody line scattered with short, punchy notes. But in his long solo passages, he really showed his skills.
The sounds from his horn were clear and unblemished. Alongside this brilliant tone, a product of his classical background, he displayed his growing ability to present harmonically complex ideas. Marsalis has taken long strides since his last Vancouver appearance at the Commodore over a year ago.

At that gig his talent was abundantly clear but rough edges were still noticeable. His ventures into avantgarde playing were not perfectly crisp.

At the Plazazz, Marsalis, had all the elements working together. He maintained a solid harmonic structure beneath adventurous improvisations, and was competent in a variety of difficult rhythms. Above all, he displayed a sense of restraint. This restraint did not hold back creative urges. Instead, it was a sign of musical maturity – knowing when to hold back and when to punch musically.

His brother Branford, tenor and soprano saxophones, has not quite developed his abilities to the same degrele. But he certainly could keep up with Wynton and provide his own interesting improvisations.

The Marsalis brothers maintain a near-telepathic musical relationship. On the Thelonious Monk tune, “Think Of One,” they demonstrated their strong anticipatory skills throughout this tune structured in a call-and response format. The sudden rises in dynamics also gave the tune a curious if not deafening sound.

Jeff Watts on drums and Charles Fambrough on bass helped to create ‘the sound. Both played admirably in the absence of pianist Kenny Kirkland, who missed his flight from New York. They also showed restraint, taking the initiative when needed and giving way at other times to Marsalis’ fresh and exciting sounds.

By Chris Wong
Source: The Ubyssey

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