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Wynton Marsalis: From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

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The infuriating thing about Wynton Marsalis is that he is so incredibly talented that you can never simply dismiss him and yet he is so wrong-headed about so many things that you can never wholly embrace him either. Nothing brings this dilemma into sharper focus than his new album, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary.

Marsalis may well be the best technical trumpeter in the history of jazz. It’s always dangerous to claim that someone’s a better trumpeter than Dizzy Gillespie, but from his diamond-hard loud notes to his buttery soft notes, from the nail-gun precision of his fast runs to the bluesy smear of his slow phrases, Marsalis has done everything Gillespie has done in a wider variety of settings. Just listen to his terrific solo-full of staccato bursts, note-bending slides and surprising interval jumps-on the title track of the new album.

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