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Jazz - Released January 15, 2021 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released January 8, 2021 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released December 28, 2020 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released August 21, 2020 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released August 7, 2020 | Blue Engine Records

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Classical - Released July 12, 2019 | Decca

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The great African-American jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, born in 1961, expands his extensive and diverse musical repertoire every year. His Violin Concerto in D – like those of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky (Sibelius’ is in D minor) – was made especially for violinist Nicola Benedetti. In fact, the incredibly versatile jazz virtuoso admits that the work takes inspiration from her life and the way she “enlightens and delights communities all over the world with the magic of her virtuosity”.“Scored for symphony orchestra, with tremendous respect for the demands of that instrument, it is nonetheless written from the perspective of a jazz musician and New Orleans bluesman” writes Wynton Marsalis. “We believe that all human beings are connected in the essential fundamentals of life: birth, death, love, and laughter; that our most profound individual experiences are also universal (especially pain); and acknowledging the depth of that pain in the context of a groove is a powerful first step towards healing”.The piece is skilfully composed in four movements and is a delightful montage of sounds from one of today’s most world-renowned virtuosos, with jazz influences and a style like that of Stravinsky’s American period which was itself a patchwork of all different types of music. The Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin is a kind of 21st century urban “Sonata” or “Partita” in five movements which fuse Irish and American influences in a clever mix of folk and scholarly music, a fusion that Bach was well accustomed to and which Marsalis now brings to the modern world with a softness and sense of humour. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 12, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' first forays into classical music in the 1980s were celebrated as some kind of unique breakthrough, but that overlooked the fact that Marsalis was classically trained at the Juilliard School, absorbed all kinds of traditions, and has always had aspirations in the classical sphere. Credit Marsalis with broad ambitions when he turns to classical composition, as in his Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio Blood on the Fields (1997), and again here with a Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite, written for violinist Nicola Benedetti. Both works are impressive, not least in their idiomatic writing for the violin; they flatter Benedetti considerably. The Violin Concerto is in some respects the concerto for the instrument that Charles Ives never wrote. Not only are there polystylistic march passages that sound a great deal like Ives, but Marsalis draws on the early 20th century American in other respects. Sample the third-movement "Blues," which in addition to that style broadens out into a sort of gospel church service. This is something Ives would have loved. Moreover, there is the range of styles in the work: jazz and blues are present, but only as one element of a palette. The final "Hootenanny" picks up where Copland left off in terms of old-time country music. Marsalis sticks with traditional styles, more Scottish than American, in the Fiddle Dance Suite that rounds out the album. Leave aside the novelty of an African American composer writing a movement called "Nicola's Strathspey" and just enjoy the original harmonic universe Marsalis spins out of this dance. The Philadelphia Orchestra, not much heard on recordings in recent years, sounds great under conductor Cristian Măcelaru, and all in all this is a strong outing on the classical side from Marsalis, and a productive stretch for Benedetti as well. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 1, 2019 | Blue Engine Records

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Jazz - Released January 24, 2012 | Masterworks Jazz

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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
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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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Classical - Released March 17, 1999 | Sony Classical

Will Wynton's omnivorous appetite ever be satisfied? Seemingly enthralled with the string quartets of Bartók, he tries to write one of his own that basically takes off upon Bartók's (and America's Charles Ives') own methods of drawing upon vernacular language to create thoroughly contemporary classical music. While Bartók's inspiration was Hungarian folk music, Marsalis, like Ives, seems to draw upon American fiddle tunes and blues. Sounds interesting, but Wynton's reach has again exceeded his grasp over seven, often disjointed movements that stretch some 45 minutes - a lot longer than Bartók dared go. Wynton employs a lot of slithering portamentos, occasional passages of dissonance in a tonal framework, flinging ideas out there that are not developed or even hammered into a groove. The best movements are the rambunctious fifth, where the nod to Bartók is explicit in its insistent rhythms and glides, and the charming, straight-forward ragtime of the seventh. Though the liner notes are thankfully not by Stanley Crouch, they are of little help in determining the motivations behind the piece, and the Orion String Quartet works hard to pump life into this lofty attempt to jump genres. Classical listeners will make the associations more readily than jazz fans, who will be hard-pressed to relate this to anything Wynton has recorded before 1998. The disc is filled out by Marsalis and musicians from the Chamber Music Society Of Lincoln Center playing a suite from Marsalis's A Fiddler's Tale - which is essentially the music stripped of the narration - and the slithering, subtly swinging metamorphosis of Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat holds up a lot better this way. This was the third of Marsalis's eight releases in 1999. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 6, 1997 | Sony Classical

These ballets, each lasting a few minutes over half an hour, are mostly written-out compositions with jazz rhythm sections and jazz inflections from the players. As in much of Marsalis' writing in the '90s, he reaches back to several pre-bop classic jazz styles to form a synthesis of his own, with the wailing mark of Ellington ever-present in the voicings and harmonies. Jazz: 6 1/2 Syncopated Movements is a tightly arranged series of episodes that stalk across the jazz landscape from ragtime to dissonance, sometimes so tightly that it begins to resemble cartoon music. One of the more striking sections is "Trail of Tears," which has subtly smeared harmonies and horse-laughing from the muted brasses, and "Express Crossing" is right in the mold of Ellington's "Daybreak Express," with a nice breakneck muted solo for Marsalis. Though burdened with a typically pompous title, Jump Start -- The Mastery of Melancholy is actually the less pretentious ballet of the two, a suite of ten brief, disconnected big-band pieces in different idioms where the jazz elements come through with more freedom for the rhythm section and the soloists. This work hits its stride only toward the close with "Bebop" for small group (where Marsalis burns as he did in his extreme youth) and Harry "Sweets" Edison's delicious cameo on "Jump." Heavily staffed by members of Marsalis' late septet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra plays both works in precise, crisp fashion, with Marsalis conducting Jump Start and playing lead and section trumpet in both ballets. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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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 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 June 15, 1992 | Columbia

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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 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