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Blues for the New Millennium
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop
Wynton Marsalis turned his career around with his 1989 album, The Majesty of the Blues; by digging into the blues tradition behind jazz history, the trumpeter found the emotional vitality to go with his surpassing techniqu... more »
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Wynton Marsalis turned his career around with his 1989 album, The Majesty of the Blues; by digging into the blues tradition behind jazz history, the trumpeter found the emotional vitality to go with his surpassing technique. Marcus Roberts, Marsalis's most famous protégé, makes a similar musical pilgrimage on his own all-blues album, Blues for a New Millennium. If this album doesn't offer the cathartic breakthrough of the 1989 release, it does represent a less cerebral, more spontaneous outing from this virtuoso pianist. The ambitious project begins with a Dixieland arrangement of Robert Johnson's Delta classic, "Cross Road Blues," and a swing arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton's "Jungle Blues," before proceeding with a dozen Roberts blues compositions. One of those originals is "That Was Then, and This Is Now," an adaptation of Marsalis's "The Death of Jazz," which had featured Roberts's piano in its original recording on The Majesty of the Blues. The new tune also recreates a New Orleans funeral, with the sad procession out to the cemetery and the joyful return trip; Roberts's stately piano chords provide the church-like architecture within which his eight horn players moan and shout like choir members. Roberts does the blues every which way, giving them a Cuban syncopation on "When the Mornin' Comes," giving them an Ellingtonian elegance on "Heart of the Blues," turning them into the romantic balladry of "Late Rehearsal," putting them through mind-boggling key and tempo changes on "Express Mail Delivery." No matter what guise they assume, however, the blues are always essential to jazz--and Roberts and his 12 gifted young musicians come to delightful grips with that fact on Blues for a New Millennium. --Geoffrey Himes
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Oh My! This rocks!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Marcus Roberts has always blown my mind with his technical skill and incredible groove, but he completely outdoes himself on this CD, where he stretches the limits of not just the blues, but modern jazz itself. This is the first CD where I felt the disonant, raucous sounds that so characterize the Marsalis-era of jazz actually are meaningful and thought out. I particularly like "Whales of the Orient," a splendid mix of be-bop and insanity!"
There is more into it than one first thinks
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It took me some time to discover the qualities of this recording. At first I saw it as one of the usual neo-things; the sound definitely is not "new", but it is very refreshing and somehow "deep" nevertheless. Roberts skillfully put together an ensemble of musicians; the character of the musicians and of the compositions closely match: some nice solos, and good arrangements. Very charming are the pieces with two basses and drum-sets. One would like to see these people live."