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Jason Marsalis: In A World Of Mallets

Chuck Schultz By

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On a drum kit, Jason Marsalis often goes several directions (meters, not Meters) at once. On vibraphone, as he demonstrates on In A World Of Mallets, it's more a matter of smoothing out many segments into a continuous whole. Over the course of the album he invokes bells, chimes and the signature tunes of cozy wall clocks grown familiar from decades of old Hollywood, not to mention the Indonesian gamelan and, for good measure near the end, some whistling. The whistling is charming, and brings further context and layers worked by the vibes that—after a long stretch of Marsalis on many notes at once—provide a refreshing look at his virtuosity with single-note melodies.

Against their boss letting it all hang out with such impeccable swing logic, the other three players stay calm and collected, but don't wallflower themselves. Bassist Will Goble, drummer Dave Potter and pianist Austin Johnson delicately pull apart the beat like starfish arms working on an oyster dinner, leaving splendid gaps within which to stumble. Potter's cymbals sometimes echo the leader's mallet work; everything spreads just slightly apart, and then works enticingly to reinvent itself as a new whole.

"Blues Can Be Abstract, Too" bring a completely new jazz take on the blues undertones. "Whistle For Willie" evokes images of street corner New Orleans, and is as glassy and smooth as a sazerac. Marsalis is the mostly "unknown" part of one of jazz music's first families, but is spot-on with his artistry on In A World Of Mallets.

Track Listing: Discipline Discovers a World of Mallets, Blues Can Be Abstract, Ballet Class, Characters, Blues for the 29%ers, My Joy Track, Ill Bill, Louisiana Gold Track, Big Earl's Last Ride, The Nice Mailman's Happy Song to Ann, Nenhum Talvez Track, Closing Credits, Whistle for Willie Track, Discipline Gets Lost in a World of Mallets.

Personnel: Jason Marsalis: marimba, glockenspiel, tubular bells, vibraphone, xylophone; Will Goble: bass; David Potter: drums; Austin Johnson: piano.

Title: In A World Of Mallets | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Basin Street Records

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