Picks and Pans Review: Hot House Flowers
Precisely because Marsalis always sounds so good—the tone he gets out of his trumpet seems to come from another dimension altogether—it is painful to hear him try to get through the stupefyingly dull, ponderous arrangements that dominate this album. It's like watching a swan try to swim through molasses. The songs are mostly standards, such as Stardust and For All We Know, with Marsalis wafting along above string-heavy orchestrations, on which he collaborated with Bob Freedman. Marsalis' saxophone-playing brother Branford, pianist Kenny Kirkland and bassist Ron Carter occasionally manage to peek out of the backgrounds, but they end up getting very little solo time. The mood is so generally dispirited that when the tempo lifts for a lively version of I'm Confessin' (That I Love You), it's awfully tempting to shout out a "Hurray!" or two. The rest of the record is so uninvolving, however, that there's plenty of time to ponder the truth that young artists—even those of such prodigious talent as Marsalis—are entitled to a misjudgment or two. (Columbia)
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