Two Men With the Blues
WILLIE NELSON AND WYNTON MARSALIS
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Even if you know Miles Davis titled one of his pieces “Willie Nelson” out of respect and admiration for the country crooner, you still might think this pairing with Wynton Marsalis might be a disaster. While it’s not, it’s not a legitimate success either. In these live recordings, Nelson is backed by Marsalis’ ensemble plus Mickey Raphael, who has been the country legend’s harmonica player for more than a decade. Unfortunately, only Raphael sounds comfortable behind the singer.
The horn players, Marsalis and saxophonist Walter Blanding, fare well only in short doses such as on fills, shout-chorus kicks and traditional New Orleans second-line passages. But their extended improvisations lack focus. They aren’t able to simplify their ideas to fit the sparse chord change sequences of the jazz and blues standards covered.
Nelson, thankfully, doesn’t try to change his approach, and the reward is another one of his typically wonderful performances. His light yet heartfelt method of interpreting lyrics always rewards.From YouTube: