Marsalis who has a unique improvisational style says that when he is performing in Japan or in South America people often come up and ask... "Why do you not have any words to your music?" He said that he actually had to stop and think about that for a minute.
"I called dad. Long distance and collect," Marsalis chuckled. He continued, "I explained the situation to dad. He said, Well... do something with words."
The next thing we knew jazz vocalist Charmin Michelle was on stage singing a sultry rendition and richly textured version of "Bye, Bye Blackbird."
Her presentation was animated and touching. She enchanted the audience by toying with phrasing, pitch and tone which was fluid and graceful. Coupled with the amazing sax solo, the gentle and brisk piano improvisations, the light and airy bass lines, the muscular drumming syncopated with Marsalis’ infectious pitch and dramatic silences, the moment became jazzical.
As a producer, Marsalis did the obvious. He took advantage of each performer’s unique sound and created unforgettable moments throughout the evening. Scenes and subtleties became picturesque on the intimate stage at the Dakota. What unfolded was a delicate yet smooth and swingful event which exemplified how jazz musicians are able to spiritually connect with one another on the bandstand and create rhythmic brilliance.
The magic of the band came to life on "Do Wap, Do Wap, It Don’t Mean a Thing." On this Ellington piece, the ensemble started off on a slow musical discourse before moving into a lively tempo that escalated into a full-blown jam. Even with no human voice, we could hear the words vivaciously swing through the saxophone and the trombone. Once the musicians respectfully began a rigorous conversation with the piece the movement became piercing, poignant, and powerful. The pianist’s improvisations were remarkable.
On the other hand, "Johnny Hodges - Track 13" was equally as interesting. Johnny Hodges was one of Duke Ellington’s sideman. He was known for his polished deep lush tone and his ability to slide from note to note on his saxophone. Thereby, making his sax sound like a trombone. Gross skillfully projected this technique throughout the night. It is always a delight to watch musicians cruise like this and it brought to mind some of Marsalis' homegirls Germaine Bazzle and Charmaine Neville who do just the opposite by transforming their voice into musical instruments.
But, yet the musical brilliance and productive spirit of Marsalis extended musical palette is intense, engaging, and full of thought provoking surprises.
Question. Who is dad?