Wynton Marsalis: Blood on the Fields


Blood on the Fields


Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra


Blood on the Fields (Columbia 57694)

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Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Jon Hendricks (vocals), Cassandra Wilson (vocals), Miles Griffith (vocals), Wes Anderson (alto sax), James Carter (baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Victor Goines (tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Robert Stewart (tenor sax), Walter Blanding (soprano sax), Russell Gunn (trumpet), Roger Ingram (trumpet), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Wayne Goodman (trombone), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone, tuba), Ron Westray (trombone), Michael Ward (violin), Eric Reed (piano), Reginald Veal (bass), Herlin Riley (drums).

Composed by Wynton Marsalis


Recorded: The Grand Hall of the Masonic Grand Lodge, New York, January 22-25, 1995


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Wynton Marsalis has built a career on high ambitions—including (for a start) assimilating the music vocabulary from Haydn to Ornette—but this may be the biggest gambit of them all. The best comparison point here is Duke Ellington's extraordinary Black, Brown & Beige, composed a half-century before Wynton presented his Blood on the Fields to the music world. Like Ellington, Marsalis also tries to pull together history, sociology and lots of dramatic music into a big, big, big composition-- more than twice as long as Ellington's work. It may take the jazz world decades to digest this massive three-hour work -- and with Wynton Marsalis there is a particular problem that people like to talk about his music without giving it the close listening it deserves. But I predict that the Pulitzer committee's controversial decision to select this composition as the first jazz work honored in their long history will eventually look like a very smart move. Who would have thought that the dazzling trumpeter who first made his mark as a teenager hard-bopping in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers would evolve into such a masterful composer? Listen especially to how well he writes for horns. One of the high points of a storied career.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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