July 13, 2008


Wynton And Willie: Two Men Playing The Blues (All Things Considered, July 12, 2008)

Nelson says that music hasn't changed much in his lifetime.

"It's all music," Nelson says. "You got so many notes and there's so many words to throw in there, and you get different people mixing it up different ways. But you put it all together, and that's music."

Marsalis adds that the common ground between them makes playing together a natural fit.

"We're all part of the same root," Marsalis says. "It's like eating barbecue: Texas people barbecue; Louisiana people barbecue catfish. We taught them what to do with a catfish. We don't have to come together to do that, you know?

"All American root music is the same: We play shuffle rhythms, we play the blues, we have songs that we know. It was no strain for us, or to play with each other's songs on the album — all songs that I grew up hearing, of course. Willie is a part of that whole history."

"Its kinda like gettin' together more than coming together for the first time," Nelson adds. "We've always played basically the same."

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 13, 2008 11:10 AM

Marsalis was such a jazz purist in his youth, who hated when his brother "sold out" and started playing with Sting. So I can't help but wonder if the angry young man with a horn who burst onto the music scene in the early 1980s ever thought he'd be cutting an album with Willie Nelson by the time of his career's midpoint.

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at July 13, 2008 3:52 PM

I just got this from iTunes the other day and haven't listened too closely yet, but the recording of "Stardust" is remarkable for the way Willie sort of rambles through the lyric, rushing way ahead, then falling behind, the beat. It certainly is one of the most original readings of that great song of I've ever heard.

Another interesting twist to the song is that Willie sings the chorus to start and then the tenor player (Walter Blandings maybe?...can't tell when you download from iTunes) plays what is usually the introductory verse. It's not a common technique, and I only noticed it because I recently heard Bing Crosby's 1930's recording of "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" and the arranger there did the same thing. (I recently finished Gary Giddins bio of Bing, so am checking out his earliest recordings and movies...like most people my age, I only really knew him from "White Christmas," Minute Maid OJ commercials and the "Road" movies with Bob Hope.)

Wynton then plays a short chorus after the verse, which in its rhythmic precision and strong 4-beat feel, is a nice counter to Willie's freer excursion.

Posted by: Foos at July 13, 2008 9:08 PM

For comparison sake, I just dug up Willie's recording of "Stardust" from his album of the same name. His first chorus, while beautifully sung, is a much "straighter" reading of the tune.

Posted by: Foos at July 13, 2008 9:11 PM

IMO Willie is a nut case re politics, but is very under-rated as a guitarist. He has beautiful phrasing and technique. I am amazed by his work...

Posted by: darryl at July 13, 2008 10:11 PM
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