Wynton Marsalis: A Foggy Day
A Foggy Day
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1 (CBS 40461)
Composed by George & Ira Gershwin.
Recorded: New York, May 29-30, 1986 and September 24-25, 1986
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
The opening bars seem to herald a relaxed rendition of an old standard. But thirty seconds into the track, bassist Hurst briefly superimposes a five-beat pulse on the underlying 4/4, and the games begin. Wynton & Co. had been experimenting with odd metrics on the albums leading up to Standard Time, and the band displays here that they could apply these progressive techniques to the traditional repertoire. But the most impressive thing here is the subtlety with which the cross-rhythms are employed. A casual listener might not hear anything out of the ordinary, and put this track on for light background music. Send that tin-eared transgressor to jazz re-education camp forthwith! The combo playing here is happening at a very high level and has earned a place at the forefront of your attention. Marsalis's sidemen challenge him at every step, but the trumpeter stays in total control of the proceedings. Check out the placement of his phrasing against the rhythm section starting at the ninety-second mark and continuing for ten scintillating seconds . . . and then go back and enjoy it again. Just a tiny snippet, but it sounds like a mariachi band joining Monk during the last set at the Five Spot, and each ensemble asserting the primacy of its own conception of time. Then the music settles down again at the top of the form . . . but nothing is ever settled for very long on this performance. This is how you keep the old sentimental songs sounding fresh and unbridled fifty years after they were composed. By the time we get the coda, the band is changing meters so often, even Lovely Rita couldn't keep up with them. Meanwhile, the fog has dissipated and the sun is shining everywhere.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia