by William Ruben Helms
The Joy of Violent Movement
September 24, 2014
There are certain artists who are immediately synonymous with a particular location. You think of Bruce Springsteen, you immediately think of New Jersey, and of the venerable, Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ; The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Television and Blondie should bring to mind the grittiness of the old, Lower East Side and of CBGB’s; Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Mudhoney should bring to mind 1980s and 1990s Seattle, WA; and as soon as you think of the venerable Marsalis clan, you should immediately think of New Orleans.
Certainly, if you know anything about anything about jazz — hell, about music over the past 50-60 years or so — you know that the Marsalis family have made a tremendous impact on jazz and on music. Patriarch, Ellis Marsalis is a legendary pianist and educator; Branford Marsalis is a world-renowned saxophonist who has not only played alongside Sting, but has long been known as a forward-thinking and brash giant of contemporary jazz; Wynton Marsalis has made a name for himself for his attempts at preserving and honoring jazz’s tremendous history; Delfeayo Marsalis is a renowned trumpeter; and the youngest of the clan, Jason Marsalis has toured with Bela Fleck and pianist Marcus Roberts. (Interestingly, if you consider how both Wynton and Bradford Marsalis come off in interviews and in public appearances, you’d think that Wynton was the eldest of the the incredibly talented family — wrong. It’s actually Bradford. You can use that bit in a trivia night, if it comes up.)
With the release of Jason Marsalis’s third album In a World of Mallets the youngest of the Marsalis clan returned to his role as composer and bandleader — and it served as the debut of the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet, featuring Will Goble (bass), Austin Johnson (piano) and David Potter (drums). And what made that album interesting was that the album’s material was comprised of incredibly complex but playfully witty compositions which managed to twist, turn, dart, flit about and play with pauses, time signature changes and key changes in ways that put a modern twist on classic jazz.
Basin Street Records will be releasing the second Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet album, The 21st Century Trad Band on October 27, and with the release of the album’s first single, album title track, “The 21st Century Trad Band,” the album will continue to cement Marsalis’s reputation for playfully witty compositions that manage to be dense, complex and yet incredibly accessible. At one point, you’ll hear Marsalis playing the melody for “When the Saints Come Marchin’ In” for a few bars — right in the middle of the song that really swings and bobs with a sweet, amiable charm.