September 4th, 2012, 3:00 pm by Greg
June 14th, 2011, 12:00 pm by Sara
Story and interview by J Hunter
I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime, but on Saturday (September 8) at the Port of Albany’s Riverfront Jazz Festival, Greater Nippertown will complete its first-ever “Marsalis Slam” when trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis joins another great Riverfront lineup on the Corning Preserve.
Over the last eight months, we’ve seen (in order of appearance) the Branford Marsalis Quartet, the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet and Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra hit us with their respective takes on the music introduced to them by their father, pianist Ellis Marsalis. While Delfeayo may have the shortest discography of the four brothers, the mastery he displays on his chosen instrument puts him at the top of the list of trombonists playing today; we saw that in 2006, when Marsalis’ sextet set fire to Shepard Park during Lake George Jazz Weekend’s first evening show.
Along with a great list of accomplishments as a New Orleans educator, Marsalis also served up one of my Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2011: “Sweet Thunder,” a re-boot of Duke Ellington’s expansive tribute to the iconic playwright William Shakespeare. While Delfeayo’s take shows proper respect for the original compositions, Marsalis’ stripped-out arrangements combine with a stellar octet (featuring Branford and Jason) to breathe sparkling new life into one of Ellington’s sensational late-career suites.
I can’t tell you how pleased I was when Delfeayo Marsalis agreed to speak with me about “Sweet Thunder” (and other subjects):
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If many long-term, old school jazz fans are to be believed, the only thing we can – or should – do is celebrate what has come before from masters like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and (the pre-electric) Miles Davis. After all, that was when “the really great jazz” was made, and nothing new could ever measure up to those legendary recordings. If you’re of that opinion, then this ain’t your column! If you’d like to see what vibrant, exciting things are happening in the music that spawned the Freihofer Jazz Festival, then strap in and let’s light this candle!
SHANE ENDSLEY AND THE MUSIC BAND: “Then the Other” (Low Electrical Records, 2011)
Endsley is one-fifth of the miraculous neo-fusion band Kneebody, which is one of the reasons I have hope for this genre’s future. But Endsley’s also made great acoustic music with Ben Allison and Jenny Scheinmann, and “Then the Other” is Endsley’s chance to step out on the acoustic side as a leader. Fronting a tight quartet featuring keyboardist Craig Taborn, drummer Ted Poor and bassist Matt Brewer, Endsley’s music runs parallel to Kneebody’s catalog, in that it’s chock-full of intriguing twists and turns, and takes its cues from nobody else. Endsley’s trumpet is wide open, but he never tries to blow the house down, preferring to stick and move rather than throw haymakers. Taborn’s electric fans may be unhappy he left his Fender Rhodes in the garage, but his electrifying solos on “House” and “King’s County Ramble” should please anyone. That future I mentioned? “Then the Other” makes it even brighter.
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