Even though the official release of In A World Of Mallets by Jason Marsalis is not until February 19th, we jumped on it immediately at WEMU. With the panoply of vibes, tubular bells, marimbas and other mallet instruments this recording is like a breath of light, spring air. Perhaps it’s the New Orleans vibe that percolates throughout the songs or the emergence of a new working group in jazz, but this is a welcome addition to the WEMU playlist.
Marsalis’ timing is perfect both musically and socially. Starting February 20th, he has appearances in Grosse Pointe and Ann Arbor. In A World Of Mallets has an attitude of reverence for the great masters of mallet instruments such as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Nelson, Max Roach, Roy Brooks, Freddie Waits, Ray Mantilla, Warren Smith and Stefon Harris which coincides perfectly with Black History Month. Lest you think this disc is a walk down musical memory lane with hackneyed tributes, we’re here to tell you that this is innovative and creative music. It is highly melodic, but thoroughly modern. There are fourteen selections on the recording four of which are Jason Marsalis over-dubbed on Marimba, glockenspiel, tubular bells, vibraphone and xylophone. Not since Bobby Hutcherson’s landmark Solo/Quartet recording has this instrumentation been recorded with such spectacular results. The result for you, the listener - a magnificent discovery and a novel sound on 89.1 Jazz shows.