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From The Plantation To The Penitentiary Import

4.0 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Wynton Marsalis' moving new album FROM THE PLANTATION TO THE PENITENTIARY, offers a clear-eyed and uncompromising look at the crack in America's facade of prosperity and happiness. By turns soothing, urgent, playful and angry, FROM THE PLANTATION TO THE PENITENTIARY distills Marsalis' recent observation on our modern American way of life as he's traveled the nation as a performer, teacher and private citizen.

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"We running all over the world with a blunderbuss/And the Constitution all but forgot in the fuss," Wynton Marsalis declaims on "Where Y'All At?"--the raucous theatrical finale to From the Plantation to the Penitentiary. As unusual as it may be for the celebrated trumpeter to present himself as a kind of soap box rapper, underwhelmingly taking aim at "supercapitalists," liberals, and rappers alike, the most notable departure here is his prominent feature of a vocalist, young Jennifer Sanon. A winner of the Essentially Ellington high school competition, she has real appeal and is smart, silky-toned, and calmly assured beyond her 21 years. The influence of the mighty Abbey Lincoln is felt in both the directness of her delivery and the soulful expansiveness of the music, performed by a quintet. Though Marsalis gets his time in the spotlight, playing with brittle strength as well as his customary warmth, he is generous in shining a spotlight on his bandmates, including a pair of talented up-and-comers in pianist Dan Nimmer and bassist Carlos Henriquez, drummer Ali Jackson, Jr. and saxophonist Walter Blanding, who, 15 years after being introduced on the "Tough Young Tenors" album and in spite of his stellar contributions to Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, doesn't get the attention he should. --Lloyd Sachs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 6, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000MNOXWQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,839 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Wynton Marsalis has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his music, but this latest outing may well qualify as his most outspoken and politicised attack on American social division and hypocrisy so far. As the title implies, he takes a withering look at a subject he has broached in depth before, the troubled and violent history of African-Americans, but with a lot more besides.

The excesses of rampant capitalism, the brazen exploitation of the entertainment industry, and the moral and political failings in the nation's leadership (expressed in, of all things for this notorious jazz purist, a spoken rap entitled "Where Y'all At?") all come under intense scrutiny. Four of the album's seven tracks feature his latest protégé, singer Jennifer Sanon, and the trumpeter is supported instrumentally by saxophonist Walter Blanding and a slick rhythm section that sails through the ever-changing rhythm patterns of the music, all carefully specified in the insert notes.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm not one for Jazz with vocals. This is simply amazing. The key here is the moving lyrics along with the sultry voice. It just matches like bread and butter. Jennifer Sanon is AMAZING.

Now onto the supporting cast. I don't know who Wyntons mates are on this release, but they sure know how to groove and swing and play really smooth ballads. The playing and soloing is stellar. This is just an incredible 60 minutes of musical pleasure. It runs the gammut from anger to hope, from vindication to awareness. Musically it goes back and forth and ends with Wyntons "rap", which I really dug and felt that it ended this performance on a stern, but thoughtful note.

All in all, if you want to hear a truly fine piece of work, this is definitely for you. This is a great way to spend an hour. Put the headphones on enjoy the funky acoustic bass, the very tight drumming, the beautiful voice and the trumpet and sax collage. It's just STELLAR. 5 bright glowing stars. Hats off to Wynton Marsalis.
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Format: Audio CD
First, this album is satisfying musically. I enjoy every composition, and my enjoyment is growing. Second, this collection makes a significant political statement that is well worth hearing. Though I haven't stayed abreast of the arguments, I know that Wynton Marsalis has his critics. I am just taking what he's saying on this album -- musically and otherwise -- and judging it on its own merits. Hence, five stars. He attacks much of contemporary American culture, from the political establishment to the hip hop culture, and does so incisively. The album just might turn out to be an important influence for the good, that is, that some people will turn from the objects of his well-deserved scorn and embrace some of the better alternatives that he offers (for example, see "Love and Broken Hearts"). But, of course, it's going to take a whole lot more than one album for us to cast off the all-too-abundant banality and ugliness. Still, here's an effort for the side of truth, goodness, and beauty from an artist who sees much from that high vantage point.
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Format: Audio CD
Like a previous reviewer I'm generally not one for vocal jazz, but this is unlike any that I've ever heard. I simply can't imagine a better voice (or lyrics). I generally have a hard time with the amount of vocals on jazz albums - in my opinion there always seems to be much or they try to be too powerful, but this is perfect. There's not a verse that doesn't fit in exactly where it should. The vocals compliment the music and vice versa, just as they should. The music itself is very tight and dripping with mood. This is a truly excellent album. I'll be on the lookout for more by Jennifer Sanon, and I'm already looking forward to what Wynton treats us to next.
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Format: Audio CD
A classic jazz master piece. The research and historical references are outstanding.The original music says it all. The more you listen the more meaning to the messages. Applicable as well to students of history and those wanting a better understanding to our present world situation. Certifies that music can be relevant and futuristic. Wynton adds to jazz being America's classical music.
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Format: Audio CD
Time repeats itself. Time echoes itself. And as the saying goes, there ain't nothing new under the sun. Just as it is controversially appealing as it also is musically innovative, Wynton Marsalis' latest release, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary strikes more than just your average jazz listener. Accompanying on this project is his trio from the Magic Hour project and recent performances, Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez, an Ali Jackson along with Walter Blanding on tenor and soprano saxophones. In a recent interview, Marsalis states that the penitentiary and the plantation are similar, not exactly the same but the style of bondage both produce a lot of income for the country as well as reduces an individual to a person less than what he or she is. He states that jazz music is a music of change and it's a music of engagement, intellectual and soul. All of these things must be included in the music to identify the style and topic of each song.

The title says it all. From the Plantation to the Penitentiary discusses the many ways African American culture has repeated itself symbolically over the centuries. This album and each of its tracks is a form of Evolution of the African American. Through the musicianship, lyrics, and dramatic vocals of Jennifer Sanon, we hear exactly how the culture has gone from slavery to mental bondage. The title track demonstrates how the chains we once wore now come in the form of various substance abuses and lowly public school systems with little resources to advance the upcoming generation.

The bittersweet ballad, "Love and Broken Hearts" demonstrates how relationships, courting, and other love drizzled mannerisms were all genuine at one point. A broken heart was actually possible to obtained when the love was deep enough.
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