Delfeayo Marsalis: Minions Dominion (2006)
This top-notch mainstream set, recorded in 2002, features the late Elvin Jones (1929-2004), a drummer who gained major fame with John Coltrane's '60s quartet. This was Jones' last recording with horns, and he was, as always, a versatile timekeeper, whether swinging hard and full of fire or laying down subtle textures.
Marsalis' trombone sound has a wide-open warmth, a smooth J.J. Johnson feeling. He blows out of the gate swinging hard on "Brer Rabbit," building a beautiful high-energy solo before alto saxophonist Donald Harrison stings in with a hot spot of his own in front of pianist Mulgrew Miller's succinct and light accompaniment.
Then there's brother Branford. The older Marsalis' tenor solo on the Delfeayo-penned ballad "If You Only Knew" just drips heartache, delivering some robust and thoughtful blowing that counterpoints his younger sibling's buttery tone. On the title cut Branford takes off on a Delfeayo idea and sets it on fire, moving things on out there with some prickly and unrestrained saxophone inpiration, cranking up the intensity level a notch or three. On the Ellington nugget "Just Squeeze Me," Delfeayo brings in the mute and stretches out the familiar melody with some gentle swing, leading into Branford's pushing-the-envelope mode, which in turn gives way to pianist Miller's characteristically spare but still extroverted understatement.
Minons Dominion, a fine and inspired set of mainsteam sounds, proves itself worthy of the Marsalis name.
Track Listing: Brer Rabbit; Lone Warrior; If Only You Knew; Minions Dominion; Just Squeeze Me; Weaver of Dreams; Lost in the Cresent.
Personnel: Delfeayo Marsalis: trombone; Donald Harrison: alto saxophone; Branford Marsalis: tenor and soprano saxophones; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Sergio Salvatore: piano; Robert Hurst III: bass; Edwin Livingston: bass; Eric Revis: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.
Record Label: Troubadour Jass