- Released: April 28, 1998
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Personnel includes: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet); Robert Freedman (conductor); Paul Peabody, Israel Chorberg, Krista Feeney, Richard Henrickson, Jean Ingraham, Ann Leathers, Nancy McAlhany, Ron Oakland, Susan Ornstein, Sandra Park, John Pintavalle, Matt Raidmondi, Laura J. Seaton, Lisa Steinberg (violin); Lamar Alsop, Julien Barber, Carol Landon, Sue Pray, Maxine Roach (viola); Richard Locker, Eric Friedlander, Eugene Moy (cello); Eric Reed (piano); Reginald Veal, John Beal, Lawrence Glazener, Paul Harris (bass); Lewis Nash (drums).
Recorded at The Grand Lodge Of The Masonic Hall, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Steve Epstein and Stanley Crouch.
"The Midnight Blues" was nominated for a 1999 Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition.
Wynton Marsalis has often spoken of his interest in and love of the playing the music of Louis Armstrong, but here he seems to be more in tune with the spirit of Harry James. In each of these 12 arrangements for string orchestra and rhythm section, Marsalis is out front with his trumpet blowing long and brassy tones, making each ballad sound bluesy and regal. Like James, Marsalis is in love with his tone and his ability to commandeer the orchestra. The sameness of approach to each tune is a unifying force, making it clear that the point is to listen to Marsalis explore this type of expression at length, if that's your cup of tea.