The trio, Bryant Fabian Marsalis, has a new album, “Do for You?” The group offers a mix of new and classic (but mostly new) songs. The title track and key songs on the album represent bop in a way that makes the genre appealing for new jazz audiences.
Bryant Fabian Marsalis
The group Bryant Fabian Marsalis sounds like the name of one person. However, the name is derived from the last names of group members: Lance Bryant, Christian Fabian and Jason Marsalis. Bryant and Fabian met as members of the Lionel Hampton Big Band. All the members boast extensive jazz backgrounds. The group features Bryant on tenor saxophone and vocals, Fabian on bass, and Marsalis on drums. Gates Thomas appears as a guest keyboard player on tracks three and six.
The songs on “Do for You?” show audiences what Bryant Fabian Marsalis know about jazz. To demonstrate, even some of the new songs sound as though they are roughly 50 years old—that is not an insult. It means that they have a verve and swing that indicate an era in which bop was young and fresh, and jazz audiences would clamor for it. This album has a similar effect. Just when audiences are sure they have heard all that jazz offers, yet another group comes along that performs classic jazz in new ways.
“Do for You?”
The title track intrigues me. In part because it is a question, and because it is not a complete thought. There is an implied idea passing between two parties—listener and performer, perhaps? What the track does for listeners is offer an exploration into bop.
The bass plays a slow, swingy cadence, then a drum roll introduces both the saxophone and drums. The song is off and bopping after that. The track returns to that lonely bass line, except it isn’t so lonely when the saxophone plays mid-tempo on top of it. The drums slap and clatter with ease, a shimmer bursting in between drum rolls. The song’s intensity and texture comes from the exchanges the instruments have with each other, and the variations that come when they play alone, or are showcased. The drums’ crash at the end is the perfect ending to a song that offers skillful jazz elements.
This song was written by Bryant Fabian Marsalis. Again, the bass acts like a cornerstone—it lays down a danceable groove, and the drums play along with it. Over the consistent bass, the saxophone soars, vamps, and in other ways plays in opposition to the bass. It is the musical equivalent of mixing plaids and stripes, but it works because the color palate is the same. Toward the end, the bass digs a little deeper into its register before returning to its original groove. There is a great deal going on in this song, and the idea that this is a trio making it all happen is impressive.
Strange how hip-hop comes to mind when a saxophone and bass play in certain ways. The rhythm begins instantly. The feel of the song is contemporary, fast, and hard. The jazz demonstrated here is not blushing, timid, or artful in a backward kind of apology. The group members use their instrumentation to show what jazz has in common with other genres. The saxophone is showcased beginning roughly halfway through–when that piece completes, the bass is showcased for several measures before the song returns to its original groove. The saxophone never stops dancing. The use of the bass’s pliability is illustrated. The very low and sustained bass notes add to the song’s texture.
Bryant Fabian Marsalis presents classic jazz in contemporary and uncommon ways. The exploration shows that bop doesn’t necessarily have a timeframe, except for when it was created. Bryant Fabian Marsalis’ “Do for You?” shows that jazz is timeless, and compatible with contemporary music forms.