Marsalis’ solo flight, the so-called Discipline Ensemble, returns, featuring Marsalis on marimba, glock, tubular bells and xylophone in addition to vibraphone. The one-man mallet band kicks things off with “Discipline Meets the OffBeat One,” an energetic riff on an favorite that toys with dynamics, tempo and sustain before arriving, briskly, at a terse end.
Following the Discipline Ensemble’s playful introduction, the rest of the band—Will Goble on bass, Austin Johnson on piano and David Potter on drums—joins in with updated takes on three Marsalis originals from Atlantic Bridges, a 2010 disc recorded in the multi-instrumentalist’s drummer mode with the Scan-Am Quartet.
Here, Marsalis’ vibes replace Fredrik Kronkvist’s alto sax parts, yielding more thickly textured melodic lines and packing an extra dollop of rhythm.
“The Man with Two Left Feet” lopes and swings its way into a nod at the album’s “trad band” element before deconstructing the original pattern. The nostalgic “Nights in Brooklyn” shifts gears as a cascading vibes figure wraps around Johnson’s gentle key work. Fluttering brush and cymbal underpinnings suffuse the tune with a lushness that keeps the melancholy at bay.
The inventive “BP Shakedown” unfolds, appropriately, as tussle between a breezy legato motif and its foreboding; military drum roll-flecked opposition that grows louder and stronger until its decisive finish.
Too bad the actual spill didn’t get a similarly conclusive finale.