Personnel: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet); Wes Anderson (alto saxophone); Todd Williams (tenor saxophone); Marcus Roberts (piano); Reginald Veal (bass); Herlin Riley (drums).
Recorded at BMG Studios, New York, New York between September 1987 and August 1990. Includes liner notes by Stanley Crouch.
The second in a series in which Marsalis reinvestigates the jazz standards that many of his generation have, for one reason or another, rejected. The classic tunes that were part of the "songbooks" of all the great improvisers of the tradition--Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Max Roach--are here, and Marsalis and Co. carry on the tradition of making these tunes their own. The Louis Armstrong chestnut "When It's Sleepytime Down South" is given a Dizzy Gillespie-inspired ballad treatment. "Yesterdays" and "Embraceable You" look to the sound of early-'60s Miles Davis.
Marcus Roberts is a joy to hear. His piano playing draws influence from Monk and Bill Evans, and he executes his carefully-chosen notes and phrases with perfect, no-excess flair. None of this comes off as imitation, but rather shows contemporary players continuing a great tradition. Marsalis uses this album to focus on, and pay tribute to, the standards and styles that formed the foundations for this superior American art form.