Impresario extraordinaire and multi-talented saxophonist Cory Weeds has picked up the challenge to acknowledge the contribution of black musicians to jazz music in these uncertain times. Working with trumpeter and producer Jeremy Pelt, this album New Beginnings by baritone saxophonist Jason W. Marshall, would be the fifth release led by a black artist for The Cellar Music Group.
Although his discography may be on the slim side, Marshall's bona fides are first-rate, having studied with top-notch players such as Hamiet Bluiett, Ronnie Cuber and Gary Smulyan. Filling out the brackets in this blowing session are pianist Marc Cary, bassist Gerald Cannon and the always versatile drummer Willie Jones III. The eight-tune set list includes seven interpretations of jazz/popular standards and one original by Marshall, all well-recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on January 30, 2022, and engineered by Maureen Sickler.
From the opening, growling first notes of the Joe Henderson composition "Recordame" it is clear that Marshall has a big sound and stunning tone that he uses to full effect as he runs through the familiar chord structures of the composition. Sonny Rollins wrote "Airegin" (Nigeria) to compliment his own tenor saxophone style, and it is handled with ease by Marshall. Dashing along at a super-charged clip as set by Jones' drumming, Marshall's burly sound is sure-footed, and when pianist Cary jumps in with his solo he swings with an astute hard bop style.
Luiz Bonfa's composition "Black Orpheus" is the title track from director Marcel Camus' 1959 movie of the same name. Done in the expected bossa style, Marshall's earthy tone works well with the number as he explores it with a melodic temperament. The provenance of Jason Marshall's original composition "MS. Garvey, MS.Garvey!!" is not explained in the rather skimpy liner notes, so no attempt will be made to divine his intention. Suffice it to say it is a rollicking number, pushed along with a serious backbeat set up by Jones III. Cary picks up the funky groove with abundant proficiency. The closing track is the popular song "I'll Never Stop Loving You" by Nicholas Brodzsky and Sammy Cahn which was written for the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me. Marshall eschews the standard ballad reading of the number and chooses to swing it out in an expressive and insightful manner. Cary joins the fray with a quietly impressive solo. Overall a solid session for this emerging talent.
Recordame; I Could Write a Book; Airegin; Black Orpheus; Peggy’s Blue Skylight; Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey!!; Fallen Feathers; I’ll Never Stop Loving You.
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