Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis: Stardust




Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar) and Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)


Two Men With the Blues (Blue Note 04454)

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Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar), Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Walter Blanding (tenor sax),

Mickey Raphael (harmonica), Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Ali Jackson (drums)


Composed by Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish


Recorded: The Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall, New York, January 12-13, 2007


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

This Hoagy Carmichael song may be a venerable jazz standard, but country star Willie Nelson has recorded a version that has probably outsold all the covers by living jazz artists put together. Yet Wynton Marsalis is no stranger to this territory, having put his own mark on this song in previous studio and live dates. (Check out a memorable version here.) But can these two visions of "Stardust" coexist in the same galaxy? I am happy to report that no destructive supernova resulted, although the gravitational pull in contrary directions must have been palpable on the stage when these two stars crossed paths. I'm not sure whether a 20-something Wynton would have known how to match up with Willie Nelson to such good effect, but it is a sign of his maturity as an artist that he fits so comfortably into this setting, supporting his illustrious guest visitor to Jazz at Lincoln Center, while also making such a strong statement of his own musical principles. This is a fun and fanciful performance proving that country cousins and city slickers can, at least for a brief interlude, make beautiful music together.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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