NYCD: The Blog

Thursday, January 04, 2007


While Wynken and Blinken Marsalis are busy doing their high profile activities to bring jazz to a much broader audience (read:rich people), the two lesser known and in many ways more exciting and talented Marsaliseses, Delfeayo & Jason, continue to stay low profile and play jazz for jazz fans.

Delfeayo's most recent release, "MINION'S DOMINION," is a fantastic record that features the late great drum legend Elvin Jones, in his final recorded appearance. And last night, at the most odious of all NYC venues, the Blue Note, Delfeayo Marsalis and his sextet, paid tribute to Mr. Jones with a solid, if somewhat safe set, that featured the Baby Marsalis, Jason, filling in on traps.

The band included the very tasty Anthony Wonsey on piano, bassist Gerald Cannon from that jazz mecca we call Milwaukee, and Mark Shim & Dave Liebman both on tenor, with Delfeayo leading the way on trombone. The material was as I said earlier, a bit safe. Two Marsalis originals opened the set, "Brer Rabbit," and "The Lone Warrior," the latter written for Elvin Jones. Both songs were your standard 15 minutes workouts, giving each musician time to loosen up. Everyone on the bandstand was quite capable, but no one, aside from Jason on drums, offered anything to take home.

It was on the next song, a slow, heartbreaking rendition of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," where the band wore their hearts on their sleeves. Delfeayo took the melody to new heights on the trombone, and turned this song into a gospel.

The band closed the set with the Duke's (Ellington not Snyder)"It Don't Mean A Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing." Again, all band members got their moment, but it was Jason's drum solo that got the biggest ovation, as it usually does. Tall and lanky, Jason Marsalis somehow manages to create tone and more important, melody on his drumkit, while still astonishing the audience with his speed and often unorthodox soloing. He turned an average night into something to remember.

Now, back to the Blue Note. I don't know anyone who resides in NYC and goes to the Blue Note unless they absolutely have to. It is expensive, unfriendly and uncomfortable. It is a tourist trap, regardless of its history, and a mostly unpleasant experience for all.

I made my reservation almost a month ago for this show. I try to catch Jason Marsalis anytime he is in NY. My wife and I arrived 30 minutes prior to showtime, and got seated behind the piano, with a perfect view of Anthony Wonsey's ass. We were seated at a table for 4, with 6 people and had to watch most of the show by staring at the reflection in the designer mirror, opposite the stage. Thanks to the wooden paneling across the mirror, it often looked liked Mark Shim's head on Delfeayo's body, or Gerald Cannon plucking Dave Liebman's sax.

Delfeayo Marsalis said something very interesting soon after he took the stage last night. "Back in the 1900's, horn players had to make their horns sound like voices in order to get gigs. We are sort of keeping that tradition, only we still can't get gigs." Well Delfeayo, it's not only jazz and its musicians who can't get respect. It's the fans, as well. And you can thank the Blue Note for keeping that tradition. See you at Jazz Standard.


Blogger Michael in New York said...

Do you really think Delfeayo and Jason are MORE talented? Couldn't you just say equally talented? However much they swing, you've got to give Wynton and Branford points for a much vaster output over the years and one or two notable accomplishments. I've done the same thing -- saying wouldn't it be funny if in the future people remembered Branford before Wynton. But I have to admit I was just trying to be provocative and ignoring the obvious.

7:50 AM  
Blogger NYCD Online said...

The truth is I don't believe Wynton is a very good trumpet player. He has about 6 solid releases out of about 11,000 releases. His attempts at classical, dixieland, and gospel were all honorable, but weak.

Branford on the other hand is a damn fine player. Unfortunately, I find his records tedious & boring. It was only until his recent releases on his own label that I heard any inspiration at all, specifically his live performance of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" LP.

The fact that Delfeayo & Jason's output has been limited, as well as their live appearances outside of their hometown of New Orleans, doesn't change the fact that what little there is to listen is still "more exciting," daring, and fresh. Fair enough, though. I could have said "equally talented." I truly like Branford. I truly don't like Wynton.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your comments on the Jason Marsalis review. I was a bit surprised that these guys got Mark Shim and Dave Liebman for this gig. Sounds like Liebman could have been a wild card here and certainly could have been doing some outside blowing.
His last album was essentially a classical one. Shim, who had been a BlueNote house player for some time, seems to be edging into taking the music out with Andrew Hill recently.
Re: your experience at the Blue Note, sounds terrible considering your longstanding reservation and confirms my opinion that one is better off at a less prestigious club/bar where you can still sit 5 feet away from the musicians.
I know that you really wanted to see the drummer and that alone must have been very frustrating.


7:06 AM  

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