From the insistent Cecil McBee-inspired bass line that drives the album's state-of-the-union title track, it appears that Wynton Marsalis has been getting into brother Branford's stash of Strata East and Black Jazz records. It's not that boldly moving into the 70s with his lifelong jazz reclamation project is such a bad thing, especially with impressively poised 21-year-old alto Jennifer Sanon on hand to voice his rebukes of a morally bankrupt entertainment industry and the whole capitalist system run amok. If only he could've continued the "new thing" vibe throughout, instead of returning to his swing-era comfort zone, the enjoyably militant bits would've come off less like Marsalis trying on a dashiki, which is the image his stridently rapped closer Where Y'all At? leaves us with. More comical than controversial.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis get down at Massey Hall Wednesday (March 14).