A disciple of arranger/conductor/composer and Miles Davis cohort Gil Evans, Marshall Vente has been a major mover and shaker on the Chicago jazz scene going on four decades. He is a pianist, arranger, composer, conductor, radio host, festival promoter, and just about anything having to do with jazz music. Marshall Law combines both old and new performances by Vente leading a big band and his expanded nonet, Project Nine, in a variety of venues recorded over a period from 1981 to 2000. As if determined to demonstrate his capacity in any number of jazz styles, the music includes Brazilian, some bop, modern swing, and Chicago blues. The latter is displayed best with an extended version of "Fat Woman Blues," written and sung by frequent collaborator Eldee Young. With Howard Levy's harmonica and Vente's synthesizer-generated organ all underpinned by a wailing big band, this track just drips with Chicago soul food. In fact, there's a Windy City atmosphere to virtually all the cuts, whether the major theme of the tune is Latin, mainstream, or bop. One reason for that is Vente's synth-created organ sound on most tracks. Even the reggae "Burn Your Buns" has a chitlin undertone. In addition to quality arrangements, the sessions were loaded with enterprising jazzers from the Chicago area. Many get the opportunity to solo. Among those who took best advantage of their opportunities were Jim Massoth and Pat Mallinger on tenor and Steve Berry on trombone. Anna Dawson and Paula Eastwood contribute vocals on "Chicago" and "Bright Moments," respectively. This CD is a fine recapitulation of a senior member of Chicago's jazz society's work over a 19-year period, and is recommended.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan
feat: Eldee Young