Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Wynton Marsalis to Release Fifth Blue Note CD, ‘He and She’

Wynton Marsalis will release his fifth Blue Note recording, He and She, on March 24. The album combines spoken word and music. According to a press release, “Marsalis has given his quintet some formidable charts. The album is tempered with flashes of humor and plenty of swing. There’s ease and elegance and more than a little wisdom in these grooves. He and She is about that eternally compelling and most elemental of subjects, the relationship between a man and a woman. Marsalis hasn’t merely crafted a love story, but a life story, a bittersweet rumination about the evanescence of life as well as the elusiveness of romance. Time is very much at the heart of He and She: the swift passage of time over the course of one’s life, the mood-altering shifts of time in the duration of a song.”

The release continues: “He and She began with words, not music, though it was music that brought forth the words. Marsalis had been listening to Max Roach’s Jazz in ¾ Time, along with pieces by Duke Ellington, like ‘Lady Mac’ from Such Sweet Thunder, work that explored waltz tempo in a jazz context. Roach’s classic album features ‘Valse Hot,’ which, explains Marsalis, is ‘a Sonny Rollins piece, a jazz waltz that I started to play when I was in high school.’ That tune set off a spark: ‘I began to contemplate the shuffle rhythm, that the shuffle rhythm is the combination of a waltz feeling and a march feeling, and I thought it would be good for me to do an album of waltzes. I had written a couple before, one was for a ballet by Twyla Tharp, inspired by the Matisse painting, The Dance. I was thinking about waltzes and how in Vienna today younger people still dance the waltz, a waltz season is still a part of their social calendar. From there, I began to consider the ritual of courtship. The waltz is a courtship dance and at one time it was considered to be risqué. Now, of course, it’s genteel. Then I started to think about men and women, our relationships.”

On He and She, Marsalis’s voice is more prominent throughout, prefacing just about every track with his words. Marsalis notes, “On He and She, it’s a man talking, but the person who delivers the universal truth of the matter is a woman.”

Before heading into the studio, the Wynton Marsalis Quintet traveled to the Iron Horse, in North Hampton, Mass. to perform this new material in front of an audience. Marsalis has been going up to the club for years to test-drive his work. The quintet subsequently cut the tracks live over a two-day period. The minimally edited result became He and She.

Originally Published