This Just In Fridays at Noon: Jason Marshall’s New Beginnings

Jason Marshall's new album cover

This Just In is Jazz88’s weekly celebration of new releases. It hits the airwaves every Friday at Noon and this week we are diving into Jason Marshall‘s latest release, New Beginnings. ┬áIt’s not a coup to see a baritone sax player leading a band by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still certainly not an everyday occurrence. What is abundantly clear on this record is that it makes sense for someone with Jason’s soulful approach to music to be front and center on this Cellar Music Group date.

 

I was first pulled into the project by Jason Marshall’s original composition from the effort, Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey!! The song carries the bluesy swagger that fits so well with the sound of the baritone sax. Marshall’s throaty melody and solo over the shuffle groove just put me in a good place. There’s not enough jazz being made on planet earth that makes you want to tap your toes and makes you want to transcribe every lick, but that’s right where I was with this tune.

To my ears it sounds like Jason Marshall is one of those melody-first players. Whether it’s with his original piece or the classics he chose for the date, I often don’t notice when he transitions from playing the melody to taking the solo; it’s clear that Marshall is doing a lot more than just reading off the chord changes and reminding us what scales he learned. What I hear in Marshall’s playing is an effort to truly continue the spirit of the melody into his improvisation, another disciplined skill that can be sorely lacking in many modern jazz ensembles.

It’s hard to imagine a more empathetic group of players to support Jason Marshall on this outing. Though he’s not heard on the recording, the fingerprints of producer Jeremy Pelt are all over the date. I’ve always loved Pelt’s trumpet playing but it’s clear he is also a gifted curator and producer based on how enjoyable this outing is from front to back. Willie Jones III is behind the drum kit brings a great rhythmic command and that sprightly goading of the soloists through his support that always make him a joy to listen. Gerald Cannon seems to have understood the assignment of supporting a baritone-lead project throughout, with beautiful strident walking that stays out of the way Jason Marshall’s low-mid register. Rounding out the effort is Marc Cary on piano who simply sounds excited the entire album, as if each supporting chord and solo is a revelation. It’s high praise for a record to sound like it was fun to make, too often jazz records can sound like a canned and uninspired version of a nightclub gig. This one is different, it’s a joy to take in from start to finish.

During Friday’s This Just In we’ll listen to a couple tracks from the album while also covering new releases from Mimi Fox, Jay Hoggard and Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets and more. Check the show out at Noon or on-demand here.

Thanks for checking this deep dive out and if you have music suggestions, contact me at sean@jazz88.fm


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