Sometimes even the powerful Wynton Marsalis has to take no for an answer, as his score for the film Rosewood was commissioned and completed but ultimately not used. In this case, it's clearly the filmmakers' loss, for Marsalis has written a soulful, stylistically wide-ranging set of cues that he put out anyway as part of his massive 1999 release schedule. The theme song for Rosewood is a cool, studied, country blues-flavored tune with Cassandra Wilson exploiting the husky tones of her bottom range. Along the way, Marsalis throws in some solo piano music; some bluegrass -- a dignified folk ballad and reel for fiddler Mark O'Connor; some fine swing violin from the then-88-year-old marvel Claude Williams; music for gospel choir and Shirley Caesar; and handkerchief-waving New Orleans street music (the traditional "Sing On"). There are brief atmospheric cues for big band: the moody "Eyes Around the Corner" is an obvious homage to Miles Davis and Gil Evans; "Morning Song" -- with Karen Briggs on violin -- could almost be an Ellington outtake with Ray Nance. Marsalis' house players from Lincoln Center also receive sporadic room to ruminate, as does Marsalis' own eloquent horn ("After the Dead," a lonely solo surrounded by a halo of reverb, is especially moving). It's good to hear Marsalis stretching himself all over the spectrum of music of the American South, and always from the point of view of a staunch, respectful traditionalist.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell