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In a World of Mallets

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Album Review

Having made the switch to exclusively playing vibraphone with his quartet on 2009's Music Update, Jason Marsalis sticks to his guns, errr, mallets on 2013's In a World of Mallets. Besides vibes, Marsalis also plays various other instruments here including marimba, glockenspiel, tubular bells, and xylophone. Once again working with his quartet featuring pianist Austin Johnson, bassist Will Goble, and drummer Dave Potter, Marsalis delivers an exploratory yet swinging mix of chamber and post-bop jazz. As an ensemble, they seem to have a relaxed, intuitive sense for group interplay and plenty of chops to spare. Here, Marsalis leads them through a handful of his own original compositions (and some by his bandmates) that reveal his own bent toward mixing urbane classical themes, bluesy swing, and contrapuntal post-bop sections. In that sense, tracks like the epic "Blues Can Be Abstract, Too," and the jaunty "Blues for the 29%ers," bring to mind work of his brother's Wynton and Branford. This is especially true when the band moves back and forth, doubling up the time between phrases in a kind of fractured, slightly outré post-Thelonious Monk swing style. Which isn’t to say this is avant-garde music. However, there is kind of a cerebral, yet playful classical aesthetic at work on In a World of Mallets. This is perhaps best displayed on the opening and ending cuts, "Discipline Discovers a World of Mallets," and "Discipline Gets Lost in a World of Mallets," in which Marsalis layers his vibes and bells and various percussion instruments to create a kind of chamber jazz sound. Primarily, Marsalis is an immensely talented player with lively improvisation skills and a band which is more than capable of leaping into these articulate, wry, and adventurous compositions.

Customer Reviews

Awesome talent and musicality!

I had the immense pleasure of hearing many of the cuts on this album live last night at the Oasis Room at the Garde in New London, CT. Jason is immensely talented, not a surprise given his family roots. His technique is phenomenal; the most precise and rythmic vibes player I have ever heard, also not surprising given his classical percussion background. Jason's playing is also quite expressive, using dynamics well and making full use of the vibraphone's pedal to produce both highly layered chords as well as crisp intricate runs.Listen especially to "The Nice Mailman" to appreciate his technical skills and musicality. He has assembled a young very talented group of sidemen who complement him well. They are tight together and each are superb improvisers. The cuts on the album are great, though I have to say listening to the group in public was 3x as exciting! See them live if you can.

Now this I dig.

A creative and original style, to be sure. Great if you like the vibes.

In a World of Mallets, Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Feb 19, 2013

Customer Ratings