149

Ellis Marsalis: Ruminations in New York

By

Sign in to view read count
Ellis Marsalis: Ruminations in New York

This nice, rather than exciting, solo piano set pays tribute, consciously or not, to the late John Lewis's last campaign: on behalf of the Great American Songbook ballads which Lewis insisted were, with the blues, the foundation of jazz since the 1920s. Inspired no doubt by years creating his own melodic lines on Kern, Arlen & Co's tunes, Marsalis here produces several of his own on the old template, doing some classic things with them.

His opener has a nice tension between friskiness and the caressingly lyrical phrasing to which the number which follows is given over. Its development of inner voicings makes it sound like something Thad Jones wrote, but as in the majority of tunes here, there's a singable melody.

Stylistic interest lies in the eschewal of influences normally overworked and associated with such names as Evans, Jarrett, and Tyner. By way of innovation, Marsalis (b. 1934) avoids the danger of de rigueur mannered monotony; he deploys a deft left hand doing flexible swinging things better than they were done when the general style of this set's music was the latest thing.

Hear his support for the long Bud Powell-ish lines of "Haven's Paradise." "After" opens with a harmonisation surely indebted to Monk, but the ballad improvisation which follows isn't Monkish. "Tell Me" is more overt bop, an oblique take on "I Got Rhythm" with a very active bass line which walks and also sidesteps. "Orchid Blue" has a harmonic atmosphere from Gershwin or Ellington (Porgy meets Sophisticated Lady). "Happiness is the Thing" has a pacier opening, spring(ing) fresh, and a frisky ending. "When First We Met" so cries out for a lyric that it's delivered for the most part in a yet older ballad style, where the tune was modified without many alterations, but always tellingly, pretty well vocally.

When the attraction new players find in older bop has become a live topic, it's even nicer to hear a veteran play this music of pretty well his boyhood, relaxed even more than restrained, making a lovely sound on the piano and finally saying how good he feels in the encore-like "Zee Blues": a laughing walking bass all the way to the playful way he finds of ending.

This set was recorded two years back in New York. The insert notes are strictly a resumé of the pianist's resume, leaving little doubt about why he sounds so rejuvenated and relaxed in retirement after all those teaching jobs and routine gigs and raising all those sons.


Track Listing: 1.Things That You Never Were, 3.49, 2. A Moment Alone, 4:45; 3. Haven's Paradise, 4:06; 4. Homecoming, 4:42; 5. After, 4:25; 6. Tell Me, 3:34; 7. Somehow, 4:30; 8. Orchid Blue, 4:12; 9. Happiness is the Thing, 3:40; 10. Chapter One, 4:06; 11. When First We Met, 5:06; 12. Zee Blues, 2:14

Personnel: Ellis Marsalis, solo piano

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ESP Disk | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Moving Still" CD/LP/Track Review Moving Still
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 5, 2016
Read "Once Upon a Time Right Now" CD/LP/Track Review Once Upon a Time Right Now
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: July 29, 2016
Read "Spirit Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Spirit Forward
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam!" CD/LP/Track Review Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam!
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Loafer's Hollow" CD/LP/Track Review Loafer's Hollow
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Chance Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review Chance Meeting
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!