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Ali Jackson: Amalgamations

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Ali Jackson is a loyal acolyte of Wynton Marsalis. The trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director became something of a father figure to Jackson after his dad died, and he’s helped shepherd the drummer’s career right up through his current position as timekeeper of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Marsalis and other JALCO members he has mentored, most prominently bassist Carlos Henriquez and trombonist Vincent Gardner, are featured on Amalgamations.

In a crucial stroke of inspiration, Jackson has challenged their notoriously fastidious technical rigor with a familiar, wide-ranging program that careens across the gamut in terms of mood and genre. You want harmonic gymnastics and melodic deconstruction on a tightrope without a net? Toss an old warhorse like “Cherokee” into a trio of Marsalis, Jackson and Henriquez and watch them strive for spontaneity using their impeccable chops and decade-plus experience together. Then there is “Done Tol’ You Fo’ Five Times,” which Jackson describes as “a chain gang stomp,” a slow swamp-blues featuring Gardner on muted trombone and vocal mumbles.

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