These two releases are the first in the Marsalis Music Honors Series dedicated to giving light to important musicians that have not received recognition for their contributions to jazz. Master drummers Michael Carvin and Jimmy Cobb have contributed to artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and many others. Their fire still burns bright on these two straight-ahead recordings.
Michael Carvin has recorded over 150 albums with artists from Dexter Gordon to Alice Coltrane. Since 1970 he also runs the prestigious Michael Carvin School of Drumming in New York with a remarkable alumni list including Ralph Peterson Jr., Nasheet Waits, Allison Miller, and E.J. Strickland.
The new recording finds Carvin's masterful skills on display covering standards with a quartet which includes rising saxophonist Marcus Strickland. Showing why he is more than just a perfect time-keeper, he plays with fortitude and emotion on Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud where he shares solo time with bassist Dezron Douglass and pianist Carlton Holmes. But Carvin is most striking on slower tunes like "Forest Flower where his brush work is as delicate as a feather while Strickland's tenor provides the mellow warmth.
Other highlights include a bubbly version of "A Night in Tunsia, the evocative "Prisoner of Love/Body and Soul where Strickland trades saxophone solos with special guest Branford Marsalis, and "You Go to My Head with its moving introduction leading into a rich melody and Carvin giving a clinic on the drums.
The fact that drummer Jimmy Cobb performed on one of jazz's most celebrated recordings Kind of Blue might be enough for some musicians but when you hear his playing on this new recording its clear he still has more to say on the drums.
Joined by a spirited quartet including jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis the recording is a mix of standards and fresh originals written by Cobb. The first thing that rings true is his percussive style and crisp playing. On the intro of "Mr. Lucky he solos vigorously making full use of his kit with snappy cymbal work and rim shots as the saxophone fades on the vamp.
The band swings divinely on "Composition 101 with saxophonist Andrew Speight and Marsalis delivering soulful solos as the rhythm section of Cobb and bassist Orlando Le Fleming hold down the sweet groove. Even a reading of Neil Norman's classic "Superman song "Can You Read My Mind? is given a stylish makeover as the quartet sets the music aglow. The remaining selections are equally enjoyable and prove that Cobb's rhythmic pulse is as strong as ever.
Marsalis Music Honors Michael Carvin
Track Listing: I'll Remember April; The Lamp Is Low; Prisoner of Love/Body and Soul; In Walked Bud; Forest Flower; A Night in Tunisia; You Go to My Head; Hello, Young Lovers.
Personnel: Michael Carvin: drums; Carlton Holmes: piano; Marcus Strickland: saxophone; Dezron Douglass: bass; Brandford Marsalis: saxophone (3).
Marsalis Music Honors Jimmy Cobb
Track Listing: Mr. Lucky; W. K.; Eleanor (Sister Cobb); Composition 101; Can You Read My Mind?; There Is Something About You (I Don't Know); Johnny One Note; Real Time; Tell Me; Tune 341.
Personnel: Jimmy Cobb:drums; Andrew Speight:saxophone; Ellis Marsalis:piano; Orlando LeFleming:bass.
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