Recording Date: Feb 15, 1983 - Sep 18, 1997
"Even though I write a lot of music, I have always loved to play standards because they create a mood of expectation from the audience, even if they do not know the standard. That is the most magical thing about standards. They communicate well to the novice as well as the experienced jazz listener, which is the perfect audience, primarily because at the moment of communication, all knowledge becomes equal." Wynton Marsalis
Released in January of this year, "Standards & Ballads," is Wynton Marsalis' latest offering and gift to jazz lovers. It is a collection of beautiful jazz tunes that he recorded between 1983 and 1997 and taken from eight different albums. It is a mix of timeless standards and some of his originals. Among the finest musicians who are featured in these recordings include his father and brother, Ellis Marsalis and Branford Marsalis, respectively, and Ron Carter (bass), Kenny Kirkland (piano) and Lewis Nash (drums).
Wynton Marsalis has outdone himself in playing one of my favorite tunes from this collection, "Stardust"... the arrangement is classically-infused and it is sooo beautiful that I listened to it repeatedly. On this track, he is joined by his brother, Branford Marsalis on both tenor and soprano sax, Kent Jordan on alto flute, Kenny Kirkland on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Jeffrey Watts on drums. I can imagine Hoagy Carmichael from above giving them thumbs-up and listening with pride for what these creative musicians have done to his masterpiece. This track was recorded in 1984 and was taken from Hot House Flowers.
All Music Guide
The set list of STANDARDS has many of the usual suspects, including "April in Paris," "A Foggy Day," "Django," and "Caravan." It's clear Marsalis isn't out to radically re-invent these tunes, but rather to give them classic renderings, summoning the ghost of early, acoustic post-bop with an appealing sense of balance, beauty, and technical precision.
As a staunch jazz classicist and a vociferous champion of its traditions, Wynton Marsalis should seem right at home playing an album of jazz standards. And, in fact, he does. Marsalis is well suited to classic, acoustic sets, in part because of his clear, lyrical tone on the trumpet, but mostly because of his love for the music (Marsalis's aversion to avant garde, fusion, and other experimental takes on the genre is well known).