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Jason Marsalis: Music in Motion

Drumming bandleaders must toe a thin line of heading a band in the traditional sense while allotting themselves adequate solo liberties. But audiences have brief attention spans and low tolerance for drum solos, which adds to the drummer’s burden of not only being rhythmic ground zero but also being truly musical. They must tread creatively but lightly on the bravura drum displays lest listener malaise set in.

Does Jason Marsalis follow these tricky rules? Indeed he does. While a few brief interludes, distinctive drumology intros (i.e., tracks 2, 3), “Discipline Strikes Again” and certain assertive tactics inform the blindfolded listener that this is the drummer’s date, Marsalis also engenders a solid sense of camaraderie among his young cohorts. And he likewise solves the potential traffic jam of employing two reed players (tenorist John Ellis, alto and soprano man Derek Douget) in an entirely complementary fashion; witness their exchange on “The Sweeper” for reference. Pianist Jonathan Lefcoski and bassist Peter Harris round out the cast.

New Orleanians have been known to exclaim this youngest Marsalis sib as pound-for-pound the most physically gifted of Dolores and Ellis’ progeny. As Jason continues to work out the mental part and experience life, we’re witnessing a man likely to become one of the real drum forces in the music.

Originally Published