Wynton Marsalis

Selections from Swingin' into the 21st

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In celebration of Wynton Marsalis' 50th birthday, Columbia compiled tracks from the trumpeter/bandleader's nine albums released between 1999-2000, better known as the Swingin' into the 21st series. The single-disc 2011 collection Selections from Swingin' into the 21st features a mix of large- and small-group sessions from such albums as The Marciac Suite, Standard Time, Vol. 4: Marsalis Plays Monk, Standard Time, Vol. 6: Mr. Jelly Lord, At the Octoroon Balls: String Quartet No. 1, the box set Live at the Village Vanguard, and others. Billed as Marsalis' picks of some of his favorite tracks from each album, also included are highlights from his 2002 orchestral and big-band piece All Rise. The best cuts from the Swingin' series were the small-group sessions where Marsalis and his septet got to stretch out with longer solos and inspired group interplay, as on the rollicking New Orleans second-line number "Juba and a O'Brown Squaw" from Live at the Village Vanguard and "King Porter Stomp" from his Jelly Roll Morton album Mr. Jelly Lord. Also engaging are the slightly more modern tracks, including the two roiling, cubist Thelonious Monk numbers "Hackensack" and "Green Chimneys," which Marsalis worked up for Marsalis Plays Monk. To some extent, Marsalis' extended large-ensemble pieces don't work as well in the compilation and by design should really be sought out within the context of their full recordings. That said, taken on their own merits, such pieces as the bluesy "Loose Duck" from The Marciac Suite and the lyrical violin-led ballad "Morning Song" are superb orchestral jazz pieces that showcase the urbane and always swinging mind of Marsalis.

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