Jason Marsalis | Jazz Showcase | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Thu., Sept. 10, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., Sept. 11, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., Sept. 12, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 13, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2009
Price: $20
On Music Update (ELM), his first album in eight years, Jason Marsalis takes an all-or-nothing approach to the drums. Five of the 13 tracks consist of nothing but stacked overdubs of Marsalis on the kit, layered into concise workouts that reference everything from disco to Japanese taiko drumming. On the other tunes he doesn’t touch the drums at all—instead he switches to vibraphone, an instrument he picked up early in the aughts, and leads the trio of pianist Austin Johnson, bassist Will Goble, and drummer David Potter, a group he met while in residence at Florida State University. His approach on vibes mirrors his lucid, dynamic drumming style: his phrases are lean and crisp and arrive in waves that often play against the rhythms of his bandmates. The prancing melody of the original “Ballet Class” is a tad schmaltzy for my tastes—Johnson’s bluesy solo can’t quite save it—but by and large Marsalis acquits himself well. Whatever the instrument, he’s got a fluid, unerring sense of swing, and on vibes he displays quite a fondness for quoting bebop standards—it sounds like he’s been waiting years for a crack at all the melodies he couldn’t play on drums. —Peter Margasak

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