Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis isn't as well known as his brothers Wynton and Branford. But he's just as accomplished, with a fine reputation as a sideman and production credits on albums from Nicholas Payton, the late Elvin Jones, Harry Connick Jr., and Marcus Roberts. Minions Dominion is Marsalis' third disc as a leader. But his wealth of behind the scenes work might explain why it's so well put together. There are some strong personalities on this recording, particularly pianist Mulgrew Miller and alto sax man Donald Harrison. On "Minions Dominion" and "Lost in the Crescent," Harrison's alto soars at a high altitude and Miller's soft touch on the ballad "If You Only Knew" makes it seem like his fingers are made of silk. But Marsalis keeps tight on the reins, not allowing this session to turn into an ego-fest Miller and Harrison actually bring out the best in the trombonist. His solos on "Brer Rabbit" and "Lone Warrior," a tune dedicated to Jones (recorded in 2002, it was his last date the drummer made with a horn section) are to the point and unpretentious. And while he composed the music and did all the arrangements he's the star here, after all Marsalis still keeps it easy, and doesn't try to dazzle us with a lot of circus tricks. The only shortcoming of Minions Dominion is its length: Seven songs is much too brief. But like any jazz musician worth his salt, Marsalis leaves us wanting more.
Charles L. Latimer writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].