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Late night with Marsalis and Wolff

Bloomington
Bloomington
By Branford Marsalis

Columbia Records: 1993

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Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff
By Michael Wolff

Columbia Records: 1993

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These reviews first appeared in the July 30, 1993 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

The leaders of the respective studio bands for "The Tonight Show" and "The Arsenio Hall Show" have both released new albums, although neither Branford Marsalis' or Michael Wolff's releases are respresentative fo waht you hear their bands play on the shows.

Marsalis was well-known before he signed on as Jay Leno's musical director following the retirement of Johnny Carson. The saxophonist has put out a string of jazz albums under his own name, playled with his younger brother Wynton, and toured with rock/pop star Sting.

His new release is harder driving than past efforts, with a bit of an angry undercurrent and an intensity bordering on dissonance. It takes a little getting used to given his more melodic approach on most of his recordings.

Wolff's album is more ambitious. There's everything from straight-ahead jazz to Latin to Jamaican/Caribbean to R&B. Perhaps because the pianist wanders so much stylistically and doesn't have the kind of well-developed public musical personna Marsalis has, it's hard to know where Wolff's musical center is. Still, he answers one question: No matter the style, the guy can flat-out play.