March With Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis is gifted musician & an articulate jazz historian. In my collection I have as mp3,  Think of One 1983 & as stand alone the Standard Time series vol 1 1987, Intimacy Calling 1990, Resolution of Romance 1990, Midnight Blues 1998,Monk 1999. At one time I had on cassette some of his classical work but when those tapes give up the tension ghost I didn’t replace them.

His taste is impeccable, his trumpet playing is precise, his sideman are cream of the crop & he is one of most revered of modern jazz musicians. But I find him a little too reverential. I guess, thanks to Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, I prefer my jazz to be more than tasteful. Marsalis recordings are museum pieces & even a little stiff. Highly polished but no sweat.

Marsalis also shows the difference between mere instrumental covers i.e. James Last, The Ventures doing Strawberry Fields Forever, & jazz interpretations i.e Coltrane doing Greensleeves. There was, maybe still is, a trend in jazz for this sort of cover work – Miles Davis doing Porgy & Bess vs Stan Kenton doing West Side Story. I enjoy both but Kenton’s is clearly for a less, shall we say, jazz audience.

I enjoy Marsalis when he comes up in rotation to be played but I don’t find myself going back to him the way I do with Miles Davis or Coltrane. Marsalis is the epitome of traditional non-big band jazz – though he has recorded with larger groups but his focus is on intimate settings. If you are unfamiliar, nearly any of his lps are a good place to start. The Resolution Of Romance features a great version of Skylark.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks 

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