Thursday, June 19, 2008
The concept is solid: Pair pianist and master teacher Ellis Marsalis with a young, immensely talented former trumpet student, Irvin Mayfield, whose shared stalwart defense and promotion of jazzís purest sense of history makes them well suited for each other. On paper this combination seems like a deal made in heaven. The result, however, is tremendously disappointing. From the selection of tunes to the recording quality to the performances, there is little to recommend.
For example, asking Marsalis to solo on The Carpenters-associated “Superstar” is like asking Mario Andretti to drive a Ford as the material severely limits the performance. Some of the disc is taken from a live concert with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, but the sound quality on those cuts are not nearly up to today’s standards. Lastly, a number of tunes are done in a slow romantic vein, but they fail to ignite because neither artist has smooth jazz in his heart.