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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



A jazz celebration

Marsalis Music/Rounder 11661-3302-2


    1. Swinging at the Haven
    2. The Surrey With the Fringe on Top
    3. Wynton speaks
    4. Cain and Abel
    5. Nostalgic Impressions
    6. After
    7. Sultry Serenade
    8. Twelve’s It
    9. Harry speaks
    10. Saint James Infirmary
    11. Struttin’ With Some Barbecue

Ellis Marsalis – piano

Branford Marsalis – saxophones

Delfeayo Marsalis – trombone

Jason Marsalis – drums

Wynton Marsalis – trumpet

Roland Guerin – bass

Special Guests

Harry Connick Jr. – piano

Lucien Barbarin – trombone

There had been many attempts to bring the Marsalis family of jazz superstars together before, but all had failed because on or another was always busy with other work, such is the demand for their talents. This get together finally happened on the evening of August 4, 2001, to mark the retirement of father and mentor Ellis Marsalis from his teaching post at the University of New Orleans and the establishment of a chair in his honour.

There was no way that this event could be anything other than a great success and it is well up to expectations. The first track Swinging at the Haven, written by Ellis, gets things off to a swinging start and that continues right through the programme. Surrey allows Jason and Dalfeayo to take the main solo honours, which they do with great style. On the blues based Cain & Abel Wynton and Brandford duet with an empathy and intensity that must have a family connection. They did of course play together for some time in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Wynton’s Quintet before following their own divergent paths. After is a piano feature for Ellis, he is a remarkable musician, he could have easily held his own as a performer, but he was dedicated to musical education. His list of proteges is outstanding as well as his own family, Harry Connick Jr., Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton and Donald Harrison, to name but a few, were all taught by him.

Sultry Serenade was written by trombonist Tyree Glenn for the Duke Ellington Orchestra and it is played brilliantly by Delfeayo. There is also a fine chorus from Ellis.

Harry Connick Jr joins the band for St James Infirmary and he takes the vocal, it is good to see an acknowledgement by some of the most sophisticated jazz musicians in the world, of the music’s origins in their hometown of New Orleans. Trombonist Lucien Barbarin also plays on this number and that takes us on to another New Orleans classic Struttin’ with Some Barbecue. This has always been a good sequence for improvisation and all concerned show off their jazz chops.

Many albums of this type have turned out to be a disappointment, but not this one. I recommend it for immediate purchase!

Don Mather




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