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Jazz - Released January 15, 2021 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released August 21, 2020 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released July 1, 2019 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released December 28, 2020 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released August 7, 2020 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released January 8, 2021 | Blue Engine Records

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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
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Jazz - Released August 22, 2000 | Columbia - Sony Classical

The eighth installment in Marsalis' exhaustive series of 1999 releases, this disc was originally offered as a freebie in the mail only if you bought the previous seven, and it didn't appear in the shops on its own until 2000. It was a strange marketing scheme, and one that unnecessarily muted the fanfare for the most artistically successful of Marsalis' original works in his 1999 series. Marciac, a small town in France, hosts an internationally renowned jazz festival and even erected a statue of Marsalis, which moved the composer/trumpeter to conceive this 76-minute suite for his favorite septet lineup. For personnel, Marsalis draws from his usual stable -- Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Wessell Anderson (alto sax), Victor Goines (tenor and soprano saxes, bass clarinet), Rodney Whitaker (bass), Herlin Riley (drums), Roland Guerrero (percussion), and a tag team of pianists -- with his own effortlessly fluent trumpet reverting to the neo-bop style of his early recordings. There are no programmatic pretensions ("Big Train"), no PC pronouncements about slavery ("Blood on the Fields"), no overt homages to Ellington, Monk, or Morton -- just Marsalis sounding mostly happy, buoyant, and, in the musical portraits of his friends, even warm-hearted, hugely enjoying himself as a composer. The sunny atmosphere is quickly established in the first loosely swinging number, "Loose Duck," and though the music is often difficult, encompassing all 12 keys, the musicians seem to scale the hurdles without an audible care. Best of all is the finale, "Sunflowers," a long, carefree, handclapping number with a jaunty repeated bassline. If Marsalis' entire Swinging Into the 21st series can be considered an eight-course meal, this is the tasty dessert. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 4, 1999 | Columbia - Sony Classical

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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
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Jazz - Released June 15, 1992 | Columbia

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Jazz - Released October 31, 1993 | Columbia

For this double CD, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis musically depicts in three parts a lengthy Sunday church service with program music composed for each of the traditional activities. The set does take quite awhile to get going with much of the first two parts consisting of introductions and transitions to themes that never seem to arrive. There are some exceptions, particularly Marsalis' violent trumpet distortions on "Call to Prayer," a spirited New Orleans blues and Todd Williams' tenor solo on another blues. However it is the third section that is most notable. The 28-minute "In the Sweet Embrace of Life" instrumentally portrays a preacher giving a heated sermon, building up to a very feverish level. Marsalis' model in his writing is clearly Duke Ellington. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon is an expert with mutes and Todd Williams is able to hint at both Paul Gonsalves on tenor and Dixieland clarinetists on soprano while altoist Wes Anderson and pianist Eric Reed are also major assets to the septet. Due to the memorable final section, this lengthy work is one of the high points of his career thus far. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 24, 2012 | Masterworks Jazz

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Jazz - Released March 25, 1997 | Columbia

The music on this three-CD set (released in 1997) won a Pulitzer Prize, but it's not without its faults. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis tells the story of two Africans (singers Miles Griffith and Cassandra Wilson) who are captured, brought to the United States and sold as slaves. Because the male had formerly been a prince while the female had been a commoner, he considers himself to be her superior. He asks for but then ignores the advice of a wise man (Jon Hendricks), gets caught trying to escape, discovers what "soul" is, finally accepts the female as his equal and eventually escapes with her to freedom. Marsalis wrote a dramatic, episodic and generally thought-provoking three-hour work, utilizing the three singers plus 15 other musicians (all of whom have significant musical parts to play) in a massive 27-part suite. Hendricks is delightful (and the star of the catchiest piece, "Juba and a O'Brown Squaw"), Wilson has rarely sounded better, and Griffith keeps up with the better-known singers, while the musicians (particularly trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, baritonist James Carter, pianist Eric Reed and, near the work's conclusion, violinist Michael Ward in addition to Marsalis) are quite superb. It should, however, be mentioned that the use of group narration to tell parts of the story does not work that well, the music could have used a stronger and more complicated story (the last hour has very little action), and few of the themes are at all memorable; Marsalis in the mid-'90s was a more talented arranger than composer (despite Stanley Crouch's absurd raving in the liner notes). But as is true of all of Wynton Marsalis' recordings, this one deserves several close listenings. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Universal Music Spain S.L.

"[A] richly rewarding two-CD set that cleverly combines the language of flamenco with the trumpeter's native tongue of jazz." © TiVo