Picks and Pans Review: Fathers & Sons
There is a rare charm to this album. Half of it belongs to a group headed by New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, 47, and his justifiably celebrated sons, trumpeter Wynton, 20, and tenor saxophonist Branford, 21. (A third son, Delfeayo, 16, is a trombonist but doesn't play in this set.) The other half of the LP features a vigorous band led by a father-son tenor sax team, Von Freeman, 58, and Chico, 32. While the two dads have never been as well-known as their sons, they more than keep up with the youngsters. The Marsalises are especially vibrant on Ellis' tune Twelve's It, and the Freemans show their range on Chico's Tribute to Our Fathers. Producer Stanley Crouch missed a couple of bets. On Ellis' thoughtful rendering of Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life, listeners will ache to hear the sons' horns join in, but the tune is left to the father's piano and Cecil McBee's bass. And including at least one song played by the combined families might have been fun. The album remains, however, an inspired idea, full of spirit and warmth.