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Delfeayo Marsalis: Minions Dominion

Joel Roberts By

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Delfeayo Marsalis, one of the less famous members of the most famous family in jazz today, has made his name mostly behind the scenes as a Grammy-winning producer of more than 75 albums for, among others, older brothers Wynton and Branford, Harry Connick, Jr., Marcus Roberts, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. But he is also among the more commanding trombonists of his generation and a composer of far-reaching ambition, although he's recorded surprisingly little as a leader. Minions Dominion, his first release in ten years, was actually recorded back in 2002 and is notable as one of the last sessions by legendary drummer Elvin Jones, in whose band Marsalis played for eight years.

Not surprisingly, Marsalis has a distinctly mainstream sensibility and he writes tunes, like the haunting ballad "If You Only Knew and the energetic "Brer Rabbit, that sound like time-honored standards. With Jones on hand, a Coltrane theme could be expected, and two compositions—"Lone Warrior, written in the drummer's honor, and the exploratory "Lost in the Crescent —directly invoke the spirit of Jones' work with the classic Coltrane quartet, with impressive saxophone contributions from Donald Harrison (on the former) and Branford Marsalis (on the latter). Brother Branford is also heard to great effect on the title tune and on a playful romp through Duke Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me.

Delfeayo Marsalis offers passionate, well-crafted solos throughout the album that place him in the upper tier of trombonists working today. The rest of the ensemble includes pianist Mulgrew Miller and first-call bassists Robert Hurst III and Eric Revis. Jones, heard here at the age of 75, just two years before his death, is still a force on the drums, showcasing his ability to play in straight-ahead settings as well as the more adventurous ones in which he made his reputation.

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.

Title: Minions Dominion | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Troubadour Jass

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