(Delfeayo Marsalis, trombone; Branford Marsalis, tenor & soprano sax; Donald Harrison, alto sax; Mulgrew Miller, piano; Robert Hurst III/ Eric Revis/ Edwin Livingston, bass; Elvin Jones, drums)
Delfeayo Marsalis has never received the press (and controversy) that have come the way of his older brothers, Branford and Wynton. Delfeayo had only two CDs as a leader prior to the 2006 release of this 2002 recording. The reason for this paucity of recordings is quite simple. He had been keeping busy as a sideman, but primarily as an in-demand recording producer.
Delfeayo spent much time in the later stages of the late Elvin Jones Band, soaking up the knowledge and tutelage of the drum master. What makes this CD unique is the fact that it was the last CD that Elvin recorded with horns, as Elvin ended his recording career playing in piano trios, largely with brother Hank on piano. Marsalis’ sidemen here are all top notch and include brother Branford, Donald Harrison, Mulgrew Miller, and Eric Revis.
The CD gets off to a rousing start with Brer Rabbit, and Delfeayo immediately takes charge over the walking bass line of Robert Hurst. Donald Harison follows with an extended passionate solo and then Mulgrew Miller lowers the intensity with his swinging and relaxed solo. Lone Warrior, a tribute to Elvin Jones, follows and it showcases the master. The blend of Delfeayo’s trombone and the two saxes give the track a 50s Blue Note feel before Harrison re-enters with a Coltranish solo.
The gorgeous ballad, If You Only Know, is next and it is a beauty. Delfeayo’s muted trombone solo is warm and inviting. Branford has a lyrical statement to make here and Elvin’s brush work stands out as well. The title track ratchets up the energy big time and is the most complex composition on the release. Elvin, at age 74, drives this piece with the energy of a drummer half his age, and the saxes take off pushing into avant territory.
Ellington’s Just Squeeze Me has more muted trombone and a great bass line by Eric Revis as well as some piano blues by Mulgrew Miller. Weaver of Dreams finds Miller sitting out, and is a feature for Donald Harrison, and a wide ranging solo by Delfeayo. The CD is closed with Lost in the Crescent, based on Branford’s, The Beautyful Ones. Opening with a percussive bass solo by Revis, the track features an extended “conversation” by Branford on soprano sax with Delfeayo’s trombone, and strong cymbal work by Elvin.
Minions Dominion was well worth the wait for the four year delay in release – and the final appearance of Elvin Jones with horns makes this CD even more special for collectors.
TrackList: Brer Rabbit, Lone Warrior, If You Only Knew, Minions Dominion, Just Squeeze Me, Weaver of Dreams, Lost in the Crescent
– Jeff Krow