Although the album starts with the instrumental take of the title track it is the two vocal versions - the first a striking performance of spoken word by French rapper Abd Al Malik, the second a jazz vocal version with Mina Agossi - that immediately command attention, primarily because these kinds of collaboration are a daringly new departure for 87 year-old Jamal.
Backing him are three musicians with whom he has developed an advanced musical empathy over time - drummer Herlin Riley, double bassist James Cammack and percussionist Manolo Badrena. Together they form a rhythm section that is both responsive and assertive, with each member making his presence felt.
Jamal values consistent working relationships with musicians and he also believes in meaningful partnerships with record labels, as his fruitful tenure at Jazz Village proves. ‘Marseille’ is the bejeweled work of a master musician who never says more than he has to but always says enough to make the world sit up and listen.