Delfeayo Marsalis

Minions Dominion

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When Pontius Pilate's Decision (the first album that Delfeayo Marsalis recorded as a leader) came out in 1992, it was logical to assume that the trombonist would have a sizable catalog by the mid-2000s -- that by 2005 or 2006, the younger brother of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and tenor/soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis would have provided at least a dozen albums of his own. But Delfeayo was in such heavy demand as a producer (and as a sideman) that his own catalog didn't grow nearly as fast as some of his admirers would have liked. Minions Dominion, which was recorded in 2002 and released in 2006, is only his third album as a leader -- and it is nice to see him back in the driver's seat as a recording artist. This fine post-bop date boasts an all-star lineup that includes, among others, Branford on tenor sax, Donald Harrison on alto sax, Mulgrew Miller on acoustic piano, Robert Hurst III on upright bass, and the late Elvin Jones (who died in 2004) on drums. Delfeayo (who produced Minions Dominion with Branford) shines throughout the 63-minute CD, playing with passion and conviction on Duke Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me" and Victor Young's "Weaver of Dreams" as well as originals that include the exhilarating blues "Brer Rabbit," the ballad "If You Only Knew," and two John Coltrane-influenced pieces: "Lone Warrior" (which favors a somewhat "Equinox"-like groove) and "Lost in the Crescent." And that Coltrane influence is quite appropriate given Jones' history; in the early- to mid-'60s, Jones played in Coltrane's trailblazing quartet alongside pianist McCoy Tyner (one of Miller's influences) and bassist Jimmy Garrison. Jones was a crucial part of Trane's quartet, and he is a crucial part of the consistently memorable Minions Dominion -- which makes one hope that Delfeayo Marsalis will do a lot more recording as a leader in the future.

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