Delfeayo Marsalis: Minions Dominion (2006)
Marsalis may be the most recognizable family name in jazz today, due to patriarch Ellis and his four sons: trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason. The oldest of the four brothers, Wynton, has the highest profile, and Branford falls in not far behind. The third son, Delfeayo, with only three releases in the past fifteen years, may seem less prolific than his older brothers on a lead artist basis, but he has produced or co-produced at least a hundred albums in his career. With Minions Dominion he steps out in front of the controls for the first time since his 1997 Evidence release, Musashi.
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.