Newvelle Records, which was established in 2015, believes that in this digital age there is an opportunity to build a new model for creating and distributing music. Each year, Newvelle releases a series of six albums, exclusively on vinyl, that pairs musicians with celebrated artists, writers and poets. The New Orleans Collection contains four single sleeve 180 gram clear vinyl albums, each of which was recorded in New Orleans between January and March 2020 at Esplanade Studios, a former church built in the heart of Treme.
The fourth and final album in the series is by Ellis Marsalis with his son Jason Marsalis. This was Ellis Marsalis' final recording before he passed away aged 85 years on April 1, 2020 due to complications from Covid-19.
Although Marsalis' piano style is rooted in the New Orleans tradition, his performances generally showcased a more stylish yet hearty approach. This is evidenced by several of his solo efforts here, as on "E's Knowledge," which has a wistful quality, and the title track, which is a cerebral and lyrical excursion. Probably the more evocative and elegant efforts show up on "My Funny Valentine/Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen." In a duo performance with his son Jason playing vibraphone on " Magnolia Triangle," Marsalis senior is content to have Jason do the heavy lifting while he provides background support.
The second side opens with the Ellis Marsalis composition "A Groove For Bags" and is a paean to vibraphonist Milt Jackson. Father and son are working from the same page in this bluesy romp and it shows. Another family affair is "Discipline Meets The Family," on which Jason's daughter Marley Marsalis pitches in on both percussion and piano. An apple never falls far from the tree. The penultimate track on this side is a composition by Marsalis' old friend and cohort Harold Battiste and is entitled "Beautiful Old Ladies." In this solo performance, Marsalis displays those fluent phrases that inform the expressions of the day in music.
In this final release, Ellis Marsalis provides a testament to a musical life well-lived.
Side A: E's Knowledge; Remembering John; For All We Know; Magnolia Triangle; My Funny
Valentine/Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen.
Side B; A Groove For Bags; E's Sound; Discipline Meets The Family; Beautiful Old Ladies;