Marsalis Moves On 'Motion'

On Music in Motion, drummer Jason Marsalis' second recording as a leader for Basin Street Records, the youngest sibling of the first family of modern jazz gives his band a solid collection of material to work with, and shows his colors as a leader. The band, featuring tenor saxophonist John Ellis, alto and soprano saxophonist Derek Douget, pianist Jonathan Lefcoski and bassist Peter Harris, rises to the challenges Marsalis puts before them, resulting in a varied but consistently well-played record.

Marsalis takes a page from brother Wynton's arranging concepts for smaller groups in the record's opening track, "There's a Thing Called Rhythm." The leader has each player solo over progressively slower time signatures, until the final slow, blues-drenched chorus. Wynton's band used this style to great effect with his mid-'80s quintet.

Marsalis's drumming is on display on the rhythmic, infectious "Maracatu de Modernizar," based on a Brazilian dance rhythm he picked up during his tenure with New Orleans ensemble Casa Samba.

Marsalis shows fine brushwork on "The Sweeper" (RealAudio excerpt) and "On the First Occasion." "The Steepistician" (RealAudio excerpt), based on brother Branford's old nickname, Steep, and his fondness for sports trivia, shows the band in full swing, with saxophonist Ellis digging in deep on his tenor. Soprano ace Douget is showcased on the tender "On the First Occasion."

And just to show he's in step with New Orleans rhythmic tradition, Marsalis concludes the CD with "Seven-Ay Pocky Way" (RealAudio excerpt), chunks of which seemed culled directly from the streets on Mardi Gras Day.

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