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Album Review

Wynton Marsalis, 'He and She'

March 16, 2009
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Jazz
Wynton Marsalis He and She
Blue Note
ESSENTIAL "School Boy"

Wynton Marsalis has done it again - gone and messed up a great album with his ego. First, what makes it a great album: The compositions are magnificent, and the performance sparkles, not just from the trumpeter but from his sidemen: saxophonist Walter Blanding, pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist Carlos Henriquez, and drummer Ali Jackson. Marsalis sure has an eye for talent; every time a protege leaves him to launch his own career, he manages to find a replacement who's just as promising. The quintet shines through every musical moment of "He and She," which traverses a range of styles - New Orleans street jazz, Latin jazz, hard bop, and more - many of them done in waltz time. Now, how he messed it up: This is a concept album about the lifelong relationship between a man and a woman, and Marsalis has interspersed the songs with snippets of poetry, which he wrote and recites. I'm not qualified to critique poetry, but I can tell you this: You're not going to want to hear this stuff every time you play the disc. Thankfully Marsalis has put all the poetry on individual tracks. Think I'll rip this disc to my computer and burn a new version that eliminates all the words. (Out March 24)

STEVE GREENLEE

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