Wynton Marsalis: Knozz-Moe-King




Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)


Live at Blues Alley

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Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Marcus Roberts (piano), Robert Hurst (bass), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums).

Composed by Wynton Marsalis


Recorded: Blues Alley, Washington, DC, December 19-20, 1986


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

The title of the song may demand "No Smoking," but this band is clearly in violation of the city ordinance. In fact, if you are looking for a smokin' Wynton Marsalis performance, this track from the trumpeter's December 1986 engagement at Blues Alley is a good place to start. At age 25, Marsalis was playing with a technical mastery and burning energy that few horn players in the history of this music have ever matched. In a short while, Wynton would take on a more traditional approach, and enter into an Ellingtonian-ish phase of his career that still marks his music today. But there are no signs of that looming change on the Blues Alley date. Marsalis plays fast and hot, with long loping lines that feed off the rhythm section. And what a rhythm section! For sheer unbridled drive, it would be hard to top this combo. The piece is off in modal land, and is quite malleable; but Marsalis and company push it about as far as it will go without breaking. You can check out the other versions for comparison. (This is the longest—and fastest—of the three versions of "Knozz Moe King" from the Blues Alley album.)

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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