What’s not to love about Willie Nelson? With over thirty-years of musical hits, the political activist, marijuana-smoking, back tax-owing, bio-diesel-burning musician has created his latest and greatest venture, teaming up with legendary jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis to create one of the most inspiring albums Two Men With the Blues.In 2007, the two icons teamed up at the legendary New York’s Lincoln Center for a couple extraordinary nights of jazz meets country in the city that never sleeps. The duo were backed by a prodigious five-piece band- pianist Dan Nimmer, Ali Jackson on drums, Walter Blanding on the saxophone, Carlos Henriquez playing the bass and what would a jazz album be without Mickey Raphael playing the harmonica.
Kicking off the album appropriately is “Bright Lights, Big City,” where Southern honky tonk meets city-style cabernet with jazzy piano and a lingering harmonica blended in perfect harmony. Wynton’s famous sounding trumpet followed closely second with “Night Beats” and the low bass strums celebrating the old sounds of the Roaring 20s. The twosome slow it down a little with “Stardust” and crawling piano chords with faint drum beats topped with Nelson’s country sway. Rounding out the album is Hank Williams’s “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” bringing in Wynton’s robust and short trumpet beats.
There is no denying Nelson is at the top of his game, and the anomalous partnership with Wynton Marsalis is quite possibly the preeminent musical fusion to date.