Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.

I want to help

Ellis Marsalis: Ruminations in New York


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


New York Beat
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
[no cover]
Pure Pleasure For The...
Henceforth Records
A New Orleans Christmas Carol
A New Orleans...
ELM Music
An Open Letter to Thelonious
An Open Letter to...
ELM Music
[no cover]
Duke In Blue
Henceforth Records
Ruminations in New York
Ruminations in New...
ESP Disk
[no cover]
Ruminations In New...
Henceforth Records

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus
Support our sponsor

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT  

New Service For Musicians!

Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with Premium Musician Profile.