Wynton Marsalis

The Majesty of the Blues

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This is a good album that should have been great. Two lengthy originals ("The Majesty of the Blues" and "Hickory Dickory Dock") find Wynton Marsalis displaying his rapidly developing writing skills, which were being prodded at the time by Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus. His sextet with pianist Marcus Roberts, tenorman Todd Williams, and altoist Wes Anderson is in outstanding form on these performances. However, the three-part "New Orleans Function" has two fatal flaws. Marsalis returned to his New Orleans heritage by welcoming the erratic clarinetist Dr. Michael White, veteran banjoist Danny Barker, trombonist Freddie Lonzo, and trumpeter Teddy Riley as guests. Unfortunately, an endless "Sermon" about jazz, written by Stanley Crouch and narrated by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., drones on for 16 minutes and is unspeakably pompous, killing the momentum for the record. In addition, the closing Dixieland blues is led by the frequently faltering Teddy Riley (while Marsalis plays second trumpet) and is much too ragged to have been released. So, the main reason to acquire this album is for the first two pieces.

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