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Jazz - Released June 13, 1989 | Columbia

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. With the three-part "New Orleans Function," 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. The 16-minute"Sermon" was written by Stanley Crouch and narrated by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. The closing Dixieland blues is led by Teddy Riley (while Marsalis plays second trumpet). © Scott Yanow /TiVo

Jazz - Released July 30, 1991 | Columbia

The three volumes that Wynton Marsalis subtitled Soul Gestures in Southern Blue (of which this CD is the first) are overall rather disappointing. This initial CD is the strongest of the three due to the inclusion of tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson and (on two of the five numbers) drummer Elvin Jones, but overall Marsalis (who was in the final section of his Miles Davis period), although playing quite well, seemed to have hit a dead end. His five compositions lack any memorable melodies and his own virtuosic solos do not have any distinctive qualities; pianist Marcus Roberts occasionally emerges as the top soloist. However, once he had gotten his three-part tribute to the blues out of the way, Marsalis would once again make some giant leaps forward. © Scott Yanow /TiVo