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Delfeayo Marsalis: Musashi

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Slide trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis is that rare thing-a record producer who is also a first-class player and composer. Since the mid-’80s, Berklee grad Marsalis has over the course of some 60 recordings (including brothers Wynton and Branford as well as Courtney Pine) distinguished himself as one of the more gifted producers of jazz today.

Although he managed to do the odd live gig as well as release a date on RCA a few years ago, with all his studio activities it’s not surprising that Delf’s ‘bone play has taken a back seat. Last year in Japan Marsalis gathered together a group of tough ‘n tight young’ns (Mark Gross, alto/soprano; Yuichi Inoue, piano; Shigeo Aramaki, bass; Masahiko Osaka, drums, with guest spots from Branford, Papa Ellis and trombonist Bill Reichenbach) to record Musashi, his second solo date. The recording reveals Delfeayo to be a classicist trombonist, well-versed in the oeuvres of Tyree Glenn, Curtis Fuller and Al Grey, with a serious composition/orchestration cipher going on. The prime example of his gift is the tune “Queen Himiko.”

From the opening Fender Rhodes glissandi to Branford’s Wayne-esque sweet/sour soprano to Delf’s ‘bone inhabitation of trumpet angst, “Queen Himiko” eerily invokes the spirit of Miles Davis circa ’67 with an unbound gusto. Though this track is clearly the high point, Musashi is an album of many pleasures. From Delf’s city stroll through Curtis Fullerville on “Too Marvelous For Words” to his lyrical sparring with Gross’ soprano in “Summertime” to “Only The Lonely,” his melancholy muted trombone duet with the elder Marsalis’ piano, Musashi is unassailable aural evidence (no pun intended) that Delfeayo Marsalis is a talent deserving of wider recognition.