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Sweet Thunder: Duke & Shak

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Album Review

"Such Sweet Thunder" was the title of an extended jazz suite composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in response to a commission from the Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare Festival in 1957. For this album, trombonist, composer, and arranger Delfeayo Marsalis (of the New Orleans' Marsalises) put together his own arrangement of the suite's 12 pieces as a tribute to both Ellington and Shakespeare. Leading an all-star ensemble that includes Mulgrew Miller, Tiger Okoshi, Charnett Moffett, Victor Goines, and his brothers Jason and Branford, among others, Marsalis does a very good job of bringing his own personal voice to these pieces while honoring the compositions' original style and flavor. The high points are breathtakingly good: "Madness in Great Ones" is gleefully mischievous in its unpredictable stops and starts, its sudden tritone passages, and its light, nonchalant swing; "Sonnet to Hank Cinq" is cheerful and sweet, with a brilliantly arranged horn chart; "Sonnet in Search of a Moor" starts out in a gently loping swing groove, then explodes with energy. The gospel-flavored chord changes on "Lady Mac" are also a delight. When things bog down, it's because of that old familiar jazz arranger's problem: artsy self-indulgence. "Half the Fun" starts out promisingly, with exotic rhythms and artfully strange counterpoint passages, but at over nine minutes, it would have been twice the fun at half the length, and it finally ends after a long stretch of tedious meandering. And "Sonnet for Caesar" starts out intriguingly impressionistic but also quickly dissolves into what sounds suspiciously like a bunch of aimless noodling. Overall, though, this is a fascinating and clearly heartfelt tribute to a jazz master by a group of modern virtuosos, and it's well worth the effort that it occasionally requires.

Customer Reviews

Pleasant Surprise

When I first heard of this project and then read an interview w/Delfeayo, I wasn't sure I would like this, but this sounds really good. May have t/actually get the CD so I can read the liner notes (music lovers like liner notes). Give a listen and download your favorite tracks.

Another Great offering from Delfeayo Marsalis!

SWEET Thunder indeed!! Wonderful tribute, great recording, fabulous muscians... wow!! another favorite CD to add to my Marsalis section on the CD rack! Thanks, and can't wait to see y'all live this spring!!


Born: July 28, 1965 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Trombonist, composer, and producer Delfeayo Marsalis is a highly regarded jazz performer and a member of the famed Marsalis family. Born in New Orleans in 1965 to esteemed jazz pianist and professor Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., Marsalis grew up alongside his five siblings including saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and younger brother drummer Jason Marsalis. Interested in music from a young age, he initially started out on bass and drums before settling on the trombone in sixth...
Full Bio
Sweet Thunder: Duke & Shak, Delfeayo Marsalis
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 18, 2011

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