"SYNDROME." Ellis Marsalis. Elm JS 4834. (Branwynn Music, 8318 Hickory St., New Orleans 70118.) It should come as no surprise that the musician who sired Wynton and Branford Marsalis is himself an artist of consequence. Actually, Ellis Marsalis has been heard on records before (including an album with his sons), but this set of nine pieces, six of which he composed, offers the most convincing evidence to date of his facility for creating a pensive, impressionistic mood (the title cut), an easy-stepping four-beat ("The Garden") or a carefully worked-out unaccompanied solo ("The Fourth Autumn").
The musicians heard with him, all presumably his students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, are James Black on drums, Bill Huntington on bass, and, on some tracks, the remarkable flute or piccolo of Kent Jordan.
Marsalis deals as sensitively with the works of others (Eddie Harris' "Deacceleration," John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice," Benny Golson's "Whisper Not") as with his originals. The final cut, a brief but eventful piano solo, is an impressive tour de force.
No less than three Marsalises were involved here: the teen-aged Delfeayo, his fourth son, was the producer, and his third son, Ellis Marsalis III, served as a consultant. It is ironic that the eldest member of this brilliant family has come so belatedly to public attention. Better late. . . . 5 stars.