The Marsalis Family: Music Redeems

Publication:  PopMatters
By: Benjamin Aspray
Date: September 9, 2010

Affable humility radiates from Music Redeems, a live recording of the Marsalis family’s performance at the JFK Center in D.C. The whole prodigious clan was there: brothers Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, and Jason on trumpet, sax, trombone, and drums respectively; patriarch Ellis on piano; and Ellis III doing spoken word. Harry Connick Jr., a long-time family friend, also made an appearance. 

The concert was a benefit for the planned Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans’ upper Ninth Ward, and appropriately, the tone is convivial and upbeat. Their set list is accessible without being patronizing, balancing Southern tradition (“Sweet Georgia Brown”, “The Second Line”), classic post-bop (“Donna Lee”, Thelonius Monk’s “Teo”), and Ellis Sr.’s own tunefully technical pieces. Perhaps because of its crowd-pleasing nature, Music Redeems is joyful but hardly essential. Still, it’s going towards a good cause, and the dizzying duet of Wynton’s horn and Jason’s whistling in “Donna Lee” is worth the price of admission alone.

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