Marsalis delivers solid take on jazz icon

Despite cornetist Buddy Bolden's legendary reputation as one of jazz's founding fathers, his legacy is literally silent - no recordings exist of his playing. The long-gestating biopic of his life, Bolden, by writer-director Dan Pritzker, finally opens in the United States on Saturday.

And Pulitzer Prize-winning composer-trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who hails from Bolden's hometown of New Orleans, is the logical choice to recreate Bolden's music.

Given the 57-year-old's lifelong interest in defining the jazz canon and his championing of traditional forms, it is no surprise that he delivers a soundtrack rooted solidly in the history of this musical genre.

The opening salvo on the first track is a dissonant brass fanfare which soon melts into a classic call-and-response between Marsalis' bright trumpet and the brass ensemble in a New Orleans marching band stomp. This sets the tone for the 26-track album, which wends its way through early jazz standards such as Basin Street Blues and Muskrat Ramble to Marsalis-penned originals.

Much of the musical personnel is drawn from his long-time associates from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, including trumpeter Marcus Printup and saxophonists Sherman Irby, Ted Nash and Victor Goines.

There are some standouts on the album.

  • JAZZ

    BOLDEN (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)

    Wynton Marsalis

    Blue Engine Records 

    4 stars

Singer Catherine Russell offers a classy take on the rather scandalous invitation to adultery in the rarely heard vocal version of Make Me A Pallet On The Floor.

Creole Belles is a melodic recreation of the turn-of-the-century music style where American folk forms were being tentatively introduced into European classical structures.

This album is a snapshot of jazz music's evolution, delivered with the energy and rigour one has come to associate with Marsalis' more ambitious musical projects.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'Marsalis delivers solid take on jazz icon'. Print Edition | Subscribe