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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Indystar.Com > Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis blends tradition, spontaneity

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis blends tradition, spontaneity:sound effect
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis blends tradition, spontaneity
Musician-educator adds original works to a showcase of popular and jazz standards.

Wynton Marsalis

• Where: Clowes Hall.
• When: Saturday night.
• Bottom line: An esteemed virtuoso loosens up while honoring his forebears.

By Jay Harvey

Mastery of the trumpet as well as a century of jazz tradition doesn't come any more naturally than it does in the playing of Wynton Marsalis.

When he is out of his heavier compositional mode, Marsalis can show more plainly how genuine his access is to what all the masters who've preceded him have done on the bandstand. That feeling of spontaneous creation came through in his appearance Saturday night at Clowes Hall.

He relied on popular and jazz standards to carry much of the message in a two-hour show before a capacity audience. But he supplemented that substantially with such accessible originals as "Delfeayo's Dilemma," a couple of vocal showcases from "The Magic Hour," his current CD, and a delightful romp through some countrified funk.

His saxophonist, Walter Blanding Jr., was represented by "Late," a tribute to New Orleans with a riot of alternating and overlapping instrumental lines. Otherwise, from Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'n' Boogie" to the encore, "Them There Eyes," there was strong evidence of Marsalis' belief in renewing the repertoire via thoroughly contemporary jazz skills.

"Jazz is both the oldest and the newest music," runs one of this oft-quoted musician's pronouncements. As usual, Marsalis knows his own mind, and his performance Saturday bore the statement out.

When he played "Stardust," for example, he eschewed the majestic balladry he offered several years ago at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in favor of a fresh, wry, elliptical approach. Like many singers, he skipped the verse and went straight into the chorus, but never stated it directly. Still, it was a thoughtful, lyrical interpretation -- just from a different angle.

And he brought with him a 19-year-old singer, Jennifer Sanon, who was wise beyond her years in renditions of the encore, "Comes Love," and a traditional blues that almost had her channeling Bessie Smith. Sanon also made her own two "Magic Hour" songs Marsalis wrote for Bobby McFerrin and Dianne Reeves. Of Marsalis' instrumental colleagues, Blanding sometimes evoked the great swing-era saxophonists, and elsewhere he delivered the roiling, elongated phrasing and bluesy harmonic sense of the hard-bop heritage. That goes for his occasional turns on his other saxophone, a curved-bell soprano.

Pianist Aaron Goldberg invariably accompanied with sensitivity and a sure sense of what should be filled in and what should be left empty. His solos were varied in texture and often inspired Ali Jackson, the fleet drummer, to exciting flights of fancy.

Bassist Carlos Henriquez completed the ensemble, vocalizing in falsetto during his melody-rich solos but never ignoring his responsibility for providing a well-placed foundation for the Marsalis band's authoritative and infectious music.

Call Star reporter Jay Harvey at (317) 444-6402.

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