Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis –
Two Men with the Blues
Actually, the pairing of Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis isn’t as odd as it would first appear. Willie Nelson’s distinctive off-beat vocal phrasing has always had a swinging jazz feel to it. In fact, Willie’s repertoire over the years has included several jazz standards. Besides, country and jazz do have a common ancestor in the blues.
Two Men with the Blues was recorded during a two-night gig at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where Marsalis is the Artistic Director. Willie brought along his long-time sideman, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and Marsalis was with his Jazz at Lincoln Center quartet. The CD appropriately kicks off with the jazzed-up honky-tonk of “Bright Lights, Big City” then flows flawlessly into Willie’s classic “Night Life.” Eight more standards round out the session.
Although Two Men with the Blues was recorded at a live concert, it is apparent that this was a well rehearsed effort. Given a little thought, it’s not surprising to hear Willie singing these great jazz standards, and Wynton Marsalis and his quartet fall right into Willie’s groove. My early concerns for this collaboration were unfounded. Willie and Wynton have overcome what could have been nothing more than a novelty record and produced an evocative hybrid.
Artist: Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis
Title: Two Men with the Blues
Label: Blue Note
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Available from: purchase or download from Blue Note (includes a link to iTunes)
Or purchase at your local big box store.