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Wynton Marsalis: Blood on the Fields

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Considered as one of the most technically brilliant players in the history of the trumpet, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is also a master of classical music and a fine composer. Marsalis takes the cameras with him around New York, to his home town of New Orleans, and to his rehearsal studios where he and his assembled band of musicians are seen putting together the album Blood on the Fields. He also talks about his music and his way of working. Shot in both color and black and white.

Album Reviews:

Entertainment Weekly (6/27-7/4/97, p.123) - "...an achievement of breathtaking scope and ambition....the piece is a triumph of design and performance over originality and real emotive force....It's all too literally about hope and resilience..." - Rating: B

Down Beat (9/97, p.45) - 3 1/2 stars (out of 5) - "...Marsalis' most grandiose work to date....it succeeds mainly as a showcase for Marsalis' masterly arranging skills....richly sonorous, carefully nuanced, finely detailed orchestral textures that hold the listeners attention..."

JazzTimes (9/97, p.71) - "...BLOOD ON THE FIELDS is indeed a massive work, one that combines numerous elements of the black musical experience in America, including three or four shades of the blues, chants, field hollers, spiritual forms and...New Orleans and Caribbean rhythmic traditions..."

Option (11-12/97, p.107) - "...nothing short of remarkable....BLOOD ON THE FIELDS stands among the great achievements in jazz."

Album Notes

BLOOD ON THE FIELDS is an oratorio about slavery. This studio recording features the same singers and musicians who premiered the work at New York's Lincoln Center in April 1994.

Personnel: Wynton Marsalis (conductor, trumpet); Jon Hendricks, Cassandra Wilson, Miles Griffith (vocals); Victor Goines (soprano & tenor saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet); Walter Blanding (soprano saxophone); Wess Anderson (alto saxophone); Robert Stewart (tenor saxophone); James Carter (baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet); Russell Gunn, Roger Ingram, Marcus Printup (trumpet); Wycliffe Gordon (trombone, tuba); Wayner Goodman, Ron Westray (trombone); Michael Ward (violin); Eric Reed (piano); Reginald Veal (bass); Herlin Riley (drums, tambourine).

Recorded January 22-25, 1995. Includes liner notes by Stanley Crouch.

Listening to BLOOD ON THE FIELDS is like attending the theater without leaving your home. Marsalis' artistry and his work with the Lincoln Center Jazz program, under whose umbrella this piece was presented, are captured here for future generations of listeners. The combination of first rate performances and strong narrative provides an excellent vehicle for Marsalis' jazz opera, a musical documentation of the slave experience.

Duke Ellington centered many compositions around individual players' voices on their instruments, and in opera instruments of the orchestra are used to represent dramatic elements of a piece. Marsalis combines his knowledge of these techniques with his experience as a leader of jazz groups as well as his personal experience as an African-American to create a full-bodied piece which transcends the suffering of slavery through artistic achievement.


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