Marshall Vente/Project 9, Sextet and Big Band: Marshall Law with Eldee Young, Howard Levy and Anna Dawson
After 25 years of busting his chops on the Chicago music scene, Marshall Vente has truly come into his own as one of our leading pianists, composer/arrangers and bandleaders. Recognizing this Vente has rewarded his fans at home and away with a twenty year career retrospective CD. Culled from his numerous recordings over the last two decades, "Marshall Law" goes beyond the typical "Best of" collections that artists are loathe to associate themselves with. Rather, it represents the living continuum of Vente's musical world, which he has meticulously and steadfastly cultivated in the often-unrewarding arena of jazz music.
Fighting the good fight, and redoubling his efforts time after time, Vente has ensured that we all have a "good music" alternative to look from Chicago. Whether we happen to catch one of his numerous ensembles in a night on the town; a free concert at the Chicago Cultural Center; half-time entertainment at a Bears game; or the vast and unique recorded pleasures he presents on his special radio program "Jazz Tropicale" on WDCB FM.
It is precisely this sort of grand musical vision possessed by Mr. Vente that makes "Marshall Law" such a sweeping listen. Few artists that I can think of have the gumption or where-with-all to pull off authentic Brazilian, swing, bop funk, fusion, reggae, Caribbean and (lest we forget) blues with the style and panache of John Marshall Vente. From Roland Kirk's "Bright Moments" in 1982 to Eldee Young's "Fat Woman Blues" in 2001, this CD represents the musical odyssey begun by Vente when he first entered a recording studio twenty years ago. The highlights are many.
The Vente original "Burn Your Buns" from 1990 encases his abiding love for the Caribbean, with its laconic melody line and feline, Steely Dan-like voicings. St. Maarten has been a regular tour destination for MV over the years and his absorption of the 'island groove' informs much of his musical life.
In recent times he has spent time in the company of Chicago music legend Eldee Young. Together their treatment of the old chestnut "Bye Bye Blackbird" has all the big city sophistication of black tie and caviar at the Metropolitan Club. Young's bass-and-scat introduction evokes the great singing bass players, "Slam" Stewart and Major "Mule" Holley. Moreover, the combination of Vente and Young reminds us of a sorely overlooked principle—jazz should be fun!
From the roaring big band that accompanies the diamond-hard intonations of Anna Dawson on "Chicago," to the guitar exhortations of her husband Frank on Miles Davis' "Four," you get the picture of what a true family effort goes into all of Vente's musical successes (and any family that includes Howard Levy should have a crest). And speaking of success, there is a television producer somewhere who missed the boat by not contracting "Bulls In the Night" as a major TV theme. Its "Rocky"-like momentum, hook and lift could have scored another million-seller for Maynard Ferguson.
Like Maynard, Woody, Gil, Stan and Buddy, Marshall has moved with the times—always keeping an eye on the horizon and one eye curating the tradition. It is just this kind of philosophy that has always moved our music forward. In this case, "Marshall Law" is both benevolent and for the people.—Peter Coppock
Available on Middlecoast, contact MV@MarshallVente.com or call (630) 968-3339