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Willie Nelson And Wynton Marsalis: Two Men With The Blues

Album: Two Men With The Blues
Label: Blue Note

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Willie Nelson records so frequently (2008 releases included Two Men With The Blues, the solo Moment Of Forever, and the career-spanning box One Hell Of A Ride) that it takes some stamina to keep up. Not bad for a guy who recently turned 75. Two Men With The Blues is Willie at his most limber—and the surprise is that his co-star, the oft-formal Wynton Marsalis, sounds just as loose. Recorded at New York's Allen Room in January 2007, with Nelson and longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael joining Marsalis and his backing quartet, the selection is an appealing mix of blues, pop, and R&B; standards. Sometimes it's a bit stiff, as with "Georgia On My Mind" (surprisingly so—Willie aced it on his classic Stardust), but most of the time the players are plainly having a grand old time with this stuff, whether it's Nelson elasticizing the melody of Louis Jordan's romping "Caldonia" or Marsalis, Raphael, and sax player Walter Blanding forming a snazzy front line for "Basin Street Blues."