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The Marsalis Family, Music Redeems (CD Review)


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All of the jazz-playing Marsalises together, on one stage? It rarely happens, but it's impressive when it does. My review of their new CD, documenting a live performance, was published this week in Las Vegas City Life. Click here to go to the paper's site, or read the full text below.

The Marsalis Family, Music Redeems (Marsalis Music)

Marsalis has become a brand name in music, denoting a New Orleans dynasty as well as a hard-fought commitment to playing deep-rooted jazz and a penchant—particularly by trumpeter Wynton and drummer Jason—for diving headfirst into controversies regarding jazz education, jazz classicism and other jazz-world issues. Sometimes it's difficult to hear the music over the sound of the rhetoric.

And yet, as anyone paying attention must know, these cats consistently play and communicate on a musical level so sophisticated that even detractors would benefit from listening.

Their collective musical talents are impressively displayed on this live recording, sales of which benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans, named for the family's piano-playing patriarch. He's featured repeatedly here, particularly shining alone on his beautiful ballad “After," and on a two-piano romp with former student Harry Connick, Jr. on “Sweet Georgia Brown."

Wynton and oldest sibling Branford, on tenor saxophone, once bandmates in the former's group, continue to make terrific foils, as they demonstrate on several pieces, including Ellis's jaunty “Syndrome;" Thelonious Monk's typically quirky “Teo," which includes an impressive turn by trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis; and Jason's rambunctious soul-jazz gem “At The House, In Da Pocket."

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