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Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band: Melody Reimagined: book 1 (Basin Street)

Review of album by drummer-turned-vibraphonist Jason Marsalis

Cover of Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band album Melody Reimagined: book 1
Cover of Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band album Melody Reimagined: book 1

It’s a tradition at least as old as bebop: Attach a new melody and/or a revised arrangement to chord changes from a familiar tune. Jason Marsalis formally explores that approach with an album-length set of such pieces, the latest from the working group he now calls the 21st Century Trad Band.

The music is more postbop and swing than “trad” in the sense of the early jazz born in the leader’s native New Orleans. And Marsalis, one of his generation’s most gifted drummers, continues to successfully focus on the vibraphone, playing in a loose-limbed if technically adroit style reminiscent of influences from Bobby Hutcherson to Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton.

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