[Dixielandjazz] Second Line & Wynton Marsalis
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Sep 5 06:00:53 PDT 2005
This reviews an interesting CD. Live from a small club in NYC. Some OKOM,
some not. Recorded with the audience sounds, and what sounds like only one
or two mikes so it is a little rough.
"Second Line" is on the album and it sounds "New Orleans." It appeals to all
audiences e.g. Barbone Street always gets a second line following us at the
Showboat when we play it. (with a bit more fire than is evident on the
Critic's Choice: New CD's
Standards of Swing, Tossed Around
By BEN RATLIFF September 5, 2005 NY Times
Capitalizing on the unpretentious strengths of last year's "Magic Hour,"
Wynton Marsalis has made another small-group record that doesn't mess
around. But "Live at the House of Tribes" goes quite a bit further. It's a
close, slightly rough-sounding recording, with unerasable audience hollers
and claps and talking. The concert was a fund-raiser at a small community
theater in the East Village, one of Mr. Marsalis's favorite cultural centers
in New York; there were about 50 people in the audience, which made that
room crowded on Dec. 15, 2002.
The idea might sound contrived to you, since Mr. Marsalis is about as
underground as Tiffany's. (He is also an international symbol of New
Orleans, and is taking part in a number of fund-raisers to help the
hurricane victims there, including one at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose
Theater on Sept. 17.) But the goal isn't obscurantism, jazz in a bohemian
bunker; it is directness, exactly the opposite.
"Live at the House of Tribes" is the kind of record that some people -
myself included - have been wishing from him for a while. Nobody's saying
he's done with writing oratorios, holiday musicals and long cross-discipline
works. But it is good to get more of this: a supremely confident small
group, with a small audience, pouncing on standards and tossing them around.
The contexts are well trod: a Thelonious Monk piece with a wicked rhythmic
bounce ("Green Chimneys"), ballads ("You Don't Know What Love Is," "Just
Friends"), bebop ("Donna Lee,"), sturdy 32-bar loading-trucks for midtempo
improvisation ("What Is This Thing Called Love?") and New Orleans music (the
Paul Barbarin parade tune "Second Line"). The record's action makes a
U-shaped curve, starting high and abstract, dipping into serenity and logic,
and ending in the New Orleans party atmosphere.
And parts of the performance wrap up into neat packages, like Mr. Marsalis's
almost geometrically precise "Just Friends" solo. But here and there, as in
the 16-minute "Green Chimneys," there's some fantastic dishevelment. A lot
of that tune's improvising - by Mr. Marsalis, the alto saxophonist Wessell
Anderson (with a slightly sharp, Eric Dolphy-ish intensity) and the pianist
Eric Lewis - is textural stuff, the language of trilled and warped notes,
clusters and long tones, repetition and abstraction.
Throughout the record, the playing almost never goes outside of tonality,
and the rhythm section (Mr. Lewis, Kengo Nakamura on bass, Joe Farnsworth on
drums, Orlando Q. Rodriguez on percussion) holds fast to swing. But swing
brings out the best in these players; the music is fully alive and afire
with ideas. It makes you want to have been there.
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