Personnel: Jason Marsalis (vibraphone); Austin Croom Johnson, Austin Johnson (piano); Dave Potter, David Potter (drums).
Photographer: Jeff Strout.
Throughout much of Jason Marsalis' career, the word "drummer" has appeared in front of his name. But Marsalis doesn't play the drums at all on MUSIC UPDATE, his third album as a leader; this 2009 release finds him playing the vibes exclusively. As a vibist, Marsalis has an attractive sound that is somewhere between Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton. Marsalis even pays tribute to Hampton on "Midnight Sun" (his most famous song) and Charlie Christian's "Seven Come Eleven," although most of the songs on this 54-minute CD are original compositions. MUSIC UPDATE is essentially hard bop with elements of swing, and there are hints of New Orleans music (including Crescent City blues and Crescent City gospel) on Marsalis originals such as "Western Vacation Ranch," "Ballet Class," "Characters" and "Blues for the 29%ers (Down to 19)." In the '90s, who would have thought that Wynton, Branford, and Delfeayo's younger brother would end up playing nothing but vibes on one of his albums? But Marsalis has clearly mastered the vibes, and his third album is excellent.