The Wynton Marsalis Quartet: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet); Eric Lewis (piano); Carlos Henriquez (bass); Ali Jackson (drums).
Additional personnel includes: Diane Reeves, Bobby McFerrin (vocals).
Recorded at Right Trax Studios, New York, New York on June 6 & 7, 2003. Includes liner notes by Stanley Crouch.
Personnel: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet); Dianne Reeves, Bobby McFerrin (vocals); Eric Lewis (piano); Ali Muhammed Jackson (drums).
Audio Mixer: Patrick Smith .
Liner Note Author: Stanley Crouch.
Recording information: Right Track Studios, New York, NY (06/06/2003/06/07/2003).
Illustrator: Rachel Salomon.
In some ways, THE MAGIC HOUR marks some major changes for Wynton Marsalis; after what must seem like a lifetime on Columbia, it's his first record for Blue Note. He's also working with a group of younger musicians in a new quartet. And after a series of conceptual pieces, classical performances, big-band outings and the like, it's a return to the small-group format. At the same time, listening to Marsalis's precise-but-effortless trumpet elocution and natural swing, it's easy to feel like nothing has changed in the trumpet doyen's musical heart of hearts since his first recordings in the early 1980s.
Things start off with a blues that reaches back to Marsalis's New Orleans roots, with the leader making saucy interjections in and around Dianne Reeves's guest vocal. "You and Me" is a spare piece framed by rhythmic clapping and articulated subtly by pianist Eric Reed. The modified second-line rhythm of "Big Fat Hen" and the swinging shuffle of "Free to Be" place the ball squarely in Marsalis's wheelhouse, with the expected results. The title track that closes the album is a frenetic tour de force, with Marsalis pushing himself to the top of his range, and the band scurrying through the jazz equivalent of "Flight of the Bumblebee." Wynton the swinging trumpet man sounds glad to be back.
CMJ (3/08/04, p.17) - "Here's one for the beboppers to really sink their teeth into."
Mojo (Publisher) (4/04, p.113) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[T]here's much of spirit and wit to enjoy."