Delfeayo Marsalis – An Evening with Delfeayo Marsalis: Kalamazoo – Troubadour Jass Records #TJR093017 – 67:38 – ****1/2

Like father, like son…

(Delfeayo Marsalis – trombone; Ellis Marsalis Jr. – piano; Reginald Veal – bass; Ralph Peterson – drums)

It takes real talent from true jazz professionals to make an evening of playing familiar standards into a “musical event.” That is accomplished by trombonist, Delfeayo Marsalis, who along with his father, iconic pianist, Ellis Marsalis, Jr., bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer, Ralph Peterson, recorded a concert at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, on April 17, 2015. Delfeayo was at the University to lead a student workshop, and perform an evening concert.

Delfeayo has become a preeminent trombonist at the top of his game. His tone is warm and burnished with an innate swing that brings to mind J.J. Johnson. His father, Ellis, does not get as much press (outside of his home, New Orleans) as his multi-talented sons, but his piano playing blends the strengths of Basie and Bill Evans. The audience response to Ellis on “It Don’t Mean a Thing” shows an appreciation of his piano mastery.

Beginning with the 1923 penned, “Tin Roof Blues,” the quartet concentrates on mellow tempo blues standards. The theme of romance permeates the evening and “My Funny Valentine” is a heart melting ballad. A whimsical “Sesame Street Theme” is given a funky treatment.

“If I Were a Bell” features Ellis and the rhythm section, and Reginald Veal on bass shines. “The Secret Love Affair” is the sole composition from Delfeayo and was featured on his last CD, The Last Southern Gentleman, (a five star release!). It’s sumptuous, and would make a superb theme song for a detective noir film. (Cue to a late night smoky bar…)

Near the end of the evening, Delfeayo brought out two WMU music students onto the stage for an on the spot improv blues, “Blue Kalamazoo” and Christian O’Neill Diaz holds his own with some mellow scatting. Drummer Ralph Peterson steps aside mid tune for Madison George to get behind the drum kit.

The concert concludes with a father/son duo reading of “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans.” Its tenderness, complete with Delfeayo’s use of a wah-wah mute echoes a memorable evening for both the site audience, as well as today’s listening public over two years later. Pick up this CD…

Tin Roof Blues
Autumn Leaves
My Funny Valentine
Sesame Street Theme
If I Were a Bell
The Secret Love Affair
It Don’t Mean a Thing
Introducing the Blues
Blue Kalamazoo
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans

—Jeff Krow