If you know anything about jazz – hell, about music over the past 50-60 years or so – you know that the venerable New Orleans-based Marsalis family have made a tremendous impact on jazz and on music. Patriarch, Ellis Marsalis is a legendary pianist and educator; Branford Marsalis is a world-renowned saxophonist who has not only played alongside Sting, but has long been known as a forward-thinking giant of modern jazz; Wynton Marsalis has made a name for himself for his attempts at preserving and honoring jazz’s tremendous history; Delfeayo Marsalis is a renowned trumpeter; and the youngest of the clan, Jason Marsalis has toured with Bela Fleck and pianist Marcus Roberts.
With the February 19th release of his third album, In a World of Mallets from New Orleans-based label, Basin Street Records, the youngest of the Marsalis clan returns to his role as composer and bandleader. It also serves as the debut of the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet. “Blues Can Be Abstract, Too,” is the first single from the effort, and it’s an incredibly complex but playfully witty composition – the track manages to twist and turn, dart and flit about and play with gentle pauses, time signature changes and keys.
For those of you who think that the music you hear playing in the background while you watch the Weather Channel, Kenny G. and others is real jazz, someone like Jason Marsalis will make you truly understand that Kenny G. is generally soulless, frivolous bullshit. This is the jazz of the greats – the jazz that not just requires precision but is passionate, and is just cool as hell.