Jimmy Cobb, Michael Carvin and Marsalis Music

Having established a commitment to documenting the music of emerging jazz artists, Marsalis Music now directs its focus to established, if often underappreciated, giants with a new Honors Series of recordings. Drummers Jimmy Cobb and Michael Carvin launch this ongoing project on March 7, 2006 with quartet discs produced by label head Branford Marsalis.

“We want to put the spotlight on musicians who have contributed so much, yet often get taken for granted, ” Marsalis explained, “and we also wanted a situation in which the artist recorded the music of his or her choice. Artists have their own conception, and as a producer, it's my job to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that the music sounds as good as it can.”

Marsalis Music Honors Jimmy Cobb presents the legendary drummer in a quartet completed by alto saxophonist Andrew Speight, who first worked with Cobb in Nat Adderley's quintet; pianist Ellis Marsalis, an old friend who had never played with Cobb before; and bassist Orlando LaFleming, a young British bassist drawing attention for his work in Jane Monheit's band. The program includes several of Cobb's own original compositions. “Including Jimmy Cobb in the Honors Series was a no-brainer, ” Branford admits. “After all, he's Jimmy Cobb, one of the most influential drummers in the music and a major contributor to the Miles Davis sound. It's great that he got to record with my dad, whom he has known since before I was born, and with Andrew, who is also a colleague of mine from my teaching days at San Francisco State. Jimmy also told me how pleased he was to play with Orlando.”

Marsalis Music Honors Michael Carvin features a younger master percussionist who has been as influential in his role as “coach” at the drum school he has headed for three decades as through his performances with the likes of Jackie McLean, Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie. “I've know Carvin for years, since I first came to New York, ” Branford notes. “He's one of those stalwart guys, and he has taught most of the major drummers who have emerged in the past 15 years.” Carvin's album includes his longstanding pianist Carlton Holmes as well as rising tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland and, in his first recording, newcomer bassist Dezron Douglas.

For producer Marsalis, an important feature of the Honors Series is the opportunity to provide both exposure and a learning experience for young talents such as LaFleming (whom the saxophonist met at a European jazz festival) and Douglas (who is currently studying at the University of Hartford and first met Marsalis at a Connecticut high school). “It's my hope that, wherever possible, some younger players are included on all of the Honors sessions, so that the veterans can pass down their wisdom and experiences while getting a new view of things at the same time. It's a good opportunity for everybody.”

The first two titles in the Honors Series join previous releases by contemporary leaders Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr. and Joey Calderazzo and new players Doug Wamble and Miguel Zenn in making Marsalis Music a comprehensive home for the best in jazz.

Launched in 2002, Marsalis Music has focused primarily on jazz, with a roster featuring such promising new artists as Doug Wamble and Miguel Zenn as well as Marsalis himself and such established stylists as Joey Calderazzo and Harry Connick, Jr. The label receives marketing and distribution support through its partnership with Rounder Records, and also sponsors Marsalis Jams through its non-profit arm, the Music Education Initiative, Inc. Marsalis Jams has presented ensembles in performance / jam session settings on college and high school campuses around the country, featuring such leading musicians as David Snchez and the late James Williams.

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