Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Two Men With the Blues Blue Note 50999 5 04454 2 4 (2008)
Two Men With the Blues pairs Willie Nelson with Wynton Marsalis at two live appearances at The Allen Room, Lincoln Center, New York City, where Marsalis is musical director. Willie has always demonstrated a fondness for jazz, and he has recorded in that setting before, so an outing backed by a jazz combo for some bluesy vocal jazz-pop is well within his range. He doesn’t have to reach for any of this. Although Willie just does his usual thing, it happens to suit the music fine. The only thing Marsalis and his band bring to the table is endless showboating. But the problem is the showboating isn’t very impressive (perhaps only appearing so to the jazz novice). It’s actually Willie Nelson on guitar who brings more adventurousness to bear, with much more affinity for dissonant chords than Marsalis’ hard-bop puritanism permits. Perhaps more time playing together would have allowed a better rapport amongst the musicians. As it stands, this is adequate, but falls well short on creativity. A pairing of Nelson with someone like saxophonist James Carter might be more interesting.