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New Marsalis Project Honors Romare Bearden

The two most famous Marsalis brothers, Wynton and Branford (pictured), have both been involved in work for a new album of tunes inspired by artist Romare Bearden, whose work in painting and collage was deeply influenced by jazz, so much that he would often name his paintings after songs by artists like Duke Ellington and James P. Johnson. The album, Romare Bearden Revealed, comes out Sept. 9 on Branford’s Marsalis Music label. Truth be told, Wynton only plays on three tracks. Revealed is really Branford’s baby. He produced it and plays on the majority of the tracks. The remaining cuts are by Doug Wamble (whose Country Libations just came out via Marsalis Music) and the Marsalis Family Band.

Among the tunes on the Revealed CD are “Sea Breeze,” a song Bearden co-wrote, and live version of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Jungle Blues” played by the Marsalis Family Band earlier this year at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. We’re without an official track list, but here’s what we’ve been told will be on the album, followed by a parenthetical indicating who plays the song.

Steppin’ on the Blues

Sea Breeze


Laughin’ and Talkin’

Paris Blues

Evening Guitar

Slappin’ Seventh Avenue

Carolina Shout by James P. Johnson

Jungle Blues

The album’s release is scheduled to coincide with an exhibition of Bearden’s art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. that begins September 14 and runs through January 4, 2004. According to the National Gallery, this will be the most comprehensive Bearden exhibition ever, featuring pieces lent by Wynton, Earle Hyman (who played Bill Cosby’s father on The Cosby Show), artist/scholar David Driskell and other prominent Bearden collectors. After its stay in the Capital, the exhibition, with slight variation, will travel to four other cities. Here’s a schedule:

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, February 7 – May 16, 2004

Dallas Museum of Art, June 20 – September 12, 2004

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 14, 2004 – January 9, 2005

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, January 29 – April 24, 2005

Originally Published