Two Men with the Blues is no more a jazz album than a blues album.
It’s neither jazz returning home, nor blues wandering out.
What Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis have created is a compilation of jump-blues standards with arrangements that compliment both genres.
While most of the album is careful not to take itself too seriously, there are a few tracks that seem to plod on for ages.
The live set kicks off with the upbeat ˝Bright Lights, Big City,˝ on which Marsalis’ horn is crisp and full. ˝Ain’t Nobody’s Business˝ and ˝Basin Street Blues˝ are arranged slower than better known versions but still fit the album’s context.
Nelson and Marsalis’s take on ˝Stardust˝ comes off as a bit too ˝Sinatra˝ for Nelson’s thin vocal, while ˝Georgia on My Mind˝ just doesn’t work at all.
Still, the things that work, work well. ˝Night Life˝ and ˝Rainy Day Blues˝ are particular stand-outs, and ˝Caldonia˝ is a faithful homage to the Louis Jordan original (minus Jordan’s screaming punch line, of course).
The album ends riding high on closer ˝That’s All,˝ with its straight-out-of-a-New-Orleans-Baptist-church feel.
Both Nelson and Marsalis are notorious for collaborating with other artists.
Therefore, it seems only natural that they’ve found themselves on a project together.
Overall, this set is well worth the wait.