Album: Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, Two Men With the Blues (Blue Note)

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The Independent Culture

Willie Nelson takes it all as it comes these days, collaborating with everyone from Toby Keith to Toots Hibbert. But this live set with the don of trad jazz sparks his interest.

Both take this trawl through American standards with the ease of experienced men. Marsalis and his band's solos are tightly structured; this isn't jazz to test or stretch Nelson. But his voice, so light it can be applied to anything and sometimes seems to feel nothing, finds its range on "Basin Street Blues".

This tribute to Marsalis's beloved "land of dreams", New Orleans, sees Nelson crack his voice to suggest frailty, and indicate bottomless experience. "Ain't Nobody's Business" is retooled as autobiography by this old classic American, defending his right to be left alone to carouse. But "Georgia On My Mind", sung by Nelson so often, can't convince when he murmurs, "No peace I find". If these disciplined craftsmen have the blues, they don't spill them on a record that's worldly, but not weary; elegant, and felt just enough.

Pick of the album:"Basin Street Blues", "Georgia On My Mind", "Ain't Nobody's Business"