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Thursday, October 30, 2014

CD Review: Delfeayo Marsalis - The Last Southern Gentleman.

Delfeayo Marsalis (tmb); Ellis Marsalis (pno); John Clayton (bs); Marvin"Smitty" Smith.
(Review by Lance).
I cannot recall the last time, if ever, I've had a trombone led quartet disc to review - more's the pity! Delfeayo, brother of  Wynton, Branford, Jason and son of Ellis (here on piano), is a trombonist of comparable talent to his better known siblings. Very much an old school player but with a modern approach. Think of Vic Dickenson or Trummy and you can see where he's coming from. Adding a hint of Jimmy Knepper, JJ and maybe Slide Hampton brings you a little closer, then take into account the Marsalis genes and you have the complete product - a product of the New Orleans of today born in the Big Easy of yesterday. Easy it may be but it's not elevator music! No siree!  
It's romantic and, if it was played in an elevator, you and your girl would tell the operator to close his eyes or, if it was a first date you'd maybe just be dancing close although possibly not if track 9 (The Man with Two Left Feet by younger brother Jason) was playing!
Gorgeous balladry on She's Funny That Way, But Beautiful, Nancy (Surely Frank would have loved this version?), My Romance. A swingy romp (not in the elevator I hope!) on That Old Feeling and a delightful duet with dad on I Cover the Waterfront are just some of the moments to savour. The 'old man' himself comes to the fore in a trio feature in the form of If I Were a Bell; to refer to the lyric, "If I were a gate I'd be swinging" - Ellis is a gate!
On drums "Smitty" is always on the ball and never more so than on the up-tempo Speak Low. John Clayton is, well, simply, John Clayton - need one say more?
As well as the music, Delfeayo's essay Southern Gentlemen which covers three CD pages is, in itself, almost as evocative as the music.
A must for trombone players, jazz lovers and lovers of jazz.
Delfeayo Marsalis' The Last Southern Gentleman is available on Troubadour Jass Records.
Lance.

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