Wynton Marsalis - He And She

album review – album review – album review – album review

Blue Note

Recorded on August 24th and 25th, 2007 at Legacy Recording Studios, New York

Release date: March 24th 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

 He And She cover

"He And She" is an ambitious jazz concept album that really works. A long poem, written and spoken by Wynton Marsalis in the style of a 'toast', is interspersed in sections between each track. The theme is the relationship between man and woman right through the stages of life – from childhood to old age.

The band is Wynton Marsalis' preferred touring quintet – Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Walter Blanding (tenor and soprano saxes), Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass) and Ali Jackson (drums) – and the music is old time swing with a strong New Orleans feel, in keeping with Wynton Marsalis' increasing emphasis on traditionalism in jazz.

Eminent critic Stanley Crouch provides liner notes that bring this out clearly:

"Marsalis understands that all art is dialogue with the greatest triumphs of its past, and that true individuality comes from the quality of that dialogue. Long ago he moved beyond a single style to call up the broadest possible range of expression available to him and native to the art of jazz. As he has said, "I'm not interested in playing a style of jazz. I am interested in playing jazz, and playing or adapting any style or combination of styles that express my imagination as I hear and feel it."

Wynton Marsalis photo
Photo credit: JoAnne Savio

Sounds formal, but this gets to the heart of what is a warm, fulfilling, imagination-filled experience that you will want to go back to again and again. The rage and anger of the 2006 album "From The Plantation To The Penitentiary" has been transcended by the more simple and eternal theme of personal relationships, what makes the world tick beyond the challenges to morality and intellect of 9/11 and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Confirmatory, uplifting, contemplative jazz. Highly recommended.

You can view Wynton Marsalis reciting the whole poem uninterrupted and in its entirety and listen two tracks from the album here.

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