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 thatafter a long stretch of Marsalis on many notes at onceprovide 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.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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