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I Hear A Knockin’: Legacy Explores “The Spiritual Side of Wynton Marsalis”

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Spiritual Side of Wynton MarsalisThough he’s just 52 years of age, there’s precious little that Wynton Marsalis hasn’t accomplished in music.  The New Orleans-born trumpeter has won nine Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, performed with the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock, not to mention Eric Clapton and Crosby, Stills and Nash.  He’s tirelessly promoted jazz to young audiences, and programmed the esteemed hall of Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he currently resides as Artistic Director.  It’s a busy month for Marsalis.  He’s overseeing the Broadway opening of After Midnight, a new musical revue produced under the aegis of JALC.   He’s also the creator of the sprawling Abyssinian: A Gospel Celebration Tour which opened in North Carolina on October 3 and arrives in New York City on October 24 for a three-night stint before wrapping up in Boston on the 27th.  To coincide with the NYC homecoming of Marsalis’ two-and-a-half-hour-long jazz-gospel mass, Legacy Recordings has issued The Spiritual Side of Wynton Marsalis.

This new 15-track compendium features recordings handpicked by Marsalis from his Columbia and Sony Classical label catalogues.  All were recorded between 1991 and 2002, including one previously unreleased track.  With selections ranging from duets and trios to full orchestral settings, The Spiritual Side is eclectic but preserves the spirit of a New Orleans funeral – rollicking one minute, mournful the very next.  Marsalis touches on any number of jazz styles here, with the tracks united by the subject matter that inspired them.  A number of vocal greats are featured alongside Marsalis, including Shirley Caesar (“I Hear a Knockin’,” “If I Hold On”), Cassandra Wilson (“Oh We Have a Friend in Jesus”) and Marion Williams (the previously unreleased “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” an outtake from 1994’s In the House, On This Morning).  Marsalis’ rhythm section of Reginald Veal (bass) and Herlin Riley (drums) are also heard alongside other key players like Eric Reed and Marcus Roberts (piano), Ted Nash (reeds), Dr. Michael White (clarinet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Wessell Anderson (alto saxophone) and Victor Goines (tenor saxophone).

Seven albums, overall, are represented on this gospel-tinged journey.  The earliest, Uptown Ruler – Soul Gesture (1991), musically reflected on the mythical Mardi Gras character who, in Marsalis’ words, is “accepted without question in the houses of worship, institutions of higher discourse and intellectual engagement, as well as places of ill repute and lower levels of social intercourse.”  1994’s In This House, On This Morning was Marsalis’ first commission from Jazz at Lincoln Center; a full six tracks have been reprised from the recording sessions including the smoky “Benediction.”  Cassandra Wilson’s “Oh What a Friend We Have in Jesus” has been excerpted from Blood on the Fields (1997), Marsalis’ oratorio on slavery.  Three 1999 releases are also represented.  Sweet Release and Ghost Story combined recordings of the two titular ballets, from 1996 and 1999 respectively.  The Spiritual Side draws on Ghost Story for the Buddhist-inspired “Awakening.”

Reeltime, recorded in 1996 but released in 1999, was originally intended as the soundtrack to John Singleton’s film Rosewood about the 1923 massacre of a largely-black Florida town by white racists.  For his score, Marsalis touched on influences including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and pure New Orleans “street music.”  The joyous “Sing On” and spirited big-band-and-choir “To Higher Ground” plus Caesar’s performances of “If I Hold On” and “I Hear a Knockin’” have been lifted from Reeltime.  1999’s Live at the Village Vanguard (recorded 1990-1994) has yielded the dark, brassy “Flee as a Bird to the Mountain.”  An edit of “All Rise: XII: I Am (Don’t You Run From Me)” represents the most recent album here, 2002’s All Rise.

After the jump, we have more details plus the full track listing with discography and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 22, 2013 at 14:03

The Seventh Day of Second Discmas

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It’s Day 7 of Second Discmas, and we’re thrilled to bring you a remarkable new box set from a legend of jazz!

Wynton Marsalis‘ Swinging Into the 21st is a comprehensive 10-album, 11-CD box set containing career highlights hand-picked by the trumpeter, composer, bandleader and arranger to illuminate each facet of his history!  Marsalis selected the material on Swinging to celebrate his 50th birthday this October 18.  His diverse selections from his large catalogue include two volumes of his Standard Time, 1999′s original film music collection Reel Time, 2000′s The Marciac Suite and Selections from the Village Vanguard Box, and 2002′s All Rise, plus A Fiddler’s Tale, At the Octoroon Balls, Big Train, Sweet Release & Ghost Story!  Each title is packaged in a mini-LP replica sleeve, and a 32-page booklet features full credits and a statement by Marsalis himself.

You can be the one lucky winner of this amazing career retrospective, courtesy of Legacy Recordings, by e-mailing us (theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com)!  Just be sure to include your name, city and state in your email.

But that’s not your only way to win!  You can also “like” this post as it appears on Facebook or retweet the post on Twitter!  Drawings for Swinging Into the 21st must be received by Thursday, December 22, at 3:00 p.m. EST.  But if you enter today’s drawing and aren’t a winner, don’t worry!  You’ll automatically be entered in all the rest of the Second Discmas contests!

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another Second Discmas surprise!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 21, 2011 at 15:04