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

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Delfeayo Marsalis: The Last Southern Gentlemen

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

A fine line separates old school from old hat, and Delfeayo Marsalis’ The Last Southern Gentlemen dances that line from beginning to end. The album is styled as a throwback, its languid mood and program of time-worn chestnuts meant to conjure, as the trombonist states in his liner notes, an era “when men were gentlemen.” Unfortunately, the result, despite some moments of inspiration, has an antiquated feel that warrants only a cursory listen.

The musicianship is not at issue, with the quartet members all contributing strong work. Marsalis’ rounded tone exudes wistful emotion on “Nancy (With the Laughing Face),” and his muted wah-wah effects grant the band’s take on the Sesame Street theme a wonky playfulness. Bassist John Clayton weaves pensive phrases on “I’m Confessin’,” and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith breaks out the bongos to give “But Beautiful” a Latin-tinged essence. Pianist Ellis Marsalis’ minor-keyed harmonics lend tension to Delfeayo’s composition “The Secret Love Affair,” and when the trombonist lays out on “If I Were a Bell,” the senior Marsalis rises to the occasion with a fast-paced take on Frank Loesser’s melody.

Originally Published