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Wynton Marsalis: Mr. Jelly Lord: Standard Time Volume 6

C. Michael Bailey By

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Volume Six Squared. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' Mr. Jelly Lord is cleverly Volume Six in two different collections. It is Volume 6 in Marsalis' continuing survey of the American Canon of standard tunes and it is also Volume 6 in his ambitious Swinging into the Twenty-first Century series, slated for a total of eight volumes. That is almost too cute. In fact, it would be too cute if this were not Marsalis' greatest contribution to the digital gods where he pays tribute to jazz giants as no one else can.

What Music! Mr. Jelly Lord is as perfect a statement as anything Marsalis has committed to these electrons. Marsalis may be a great Ellingtonian or the standard bearer for trumpeter Louis Armstrong, but he is a sublime interpreter of Jelly Roll Morton. Marsalis has a telepathic, light speed empathy with this music. He deftly mixes the old and the new polishing Morton to a blinding digital, somehow making the music move from myth into sacred legend (Check out that swinging bridge in "Red Hot Pepper"). Marsalis' arrangements are crystalline and delicate, yet durable and exciting. These are breathtaking performances.

The Usual Suspects. Marsalis loyally uses many of his longtime associates, many from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wessell Anderson provides his able alto saxophone with the ubiquitous Victor Goines providing his plethora of reeds. Again, Marsalis is licorice-stick heavy, having added Professor Michael White to the clarinet of Goines. The extraordinarily fine Wycliffe Gordon plays trombone, tuba and even trumpet on "Red Hot Pepper." The aforementioned Dr. White shines brightly incandescent on "Deep Creek." "Mamanita" is a vehicle for the amply talented Danilo Pérez. "Sidewalk Blues" has an almost Vaudeville feel with its campy introduction and period perfect vamp.

Not Enough... ...can be said for this fine recording. Marsalis is an acquired taste, to be sure, often coming off as too reverent for the music, but this recording is as near a perfect and genuinely heartfelt a performance as could be expected. Like Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven, so Marsalis playing Morton. Bravo!

Track Listing: Red Hot Pepper; New Orleans Bump; King Porter Stomp; The Pearls; Deep Creek; Mamanita; Sidewalk Blues; Jungle Blues; Big Lip Blues; Dead Man Blues; Smokehouse Blues; Billy Goat Stomp; Court House Bump; Black Bottom Stomp; Tom Cat Blues.

Personnel: Wynton Marsalis: Trumpet; Eric Lewis: Piano; Herlin Riley: Drums; Reginald Veal: Bass; Wycliffe Gordon: Trombone, Tuba, and Trumpet; Lucien Barbarin: Wessell Anderson: Alto Saxophone; Victor Goines: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet; Michael White: Clarinet; Donald Vappie: Banjo, Guitar; Danilo Perez: Piano; Harry Connick, Jr.: Piano; Eric Reed: Piano.

Title: Mr. Jelly Lord: Standard Time Volume 6 | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Columbia Records

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