Saturday, October 31, 2009
Branford MARSALIS QUARTET - Braggtown 2006
Label: Marsalis Music
The name Marsalis gets a lot of buzz (thanks largely to Wynton's celebrity status), but, name recognition notwithstanding, Branford Marsalis (who was, of course, the Tonight Show band leader for some time) remains one of the most vibrant and ... Full Descriptioncreatively driven players in contemporary jazz. BRAGGTOWN (2006) is a testament to Marsalis's will to push himself artistically. As usual, John Coltrane is a major reference point, but Marsalis also draws on fusion, bop, swing, funk, and classical (see his adaptation of Purcell's "O Solitude"). Backed by a crack rhythm section, BRAGGTOWN confidently accesses the wide universe of jazz both past and present.
Tenor/soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis is a master of the "burnout"--an intense but deliberate and focused style of jazz that has its roots in John Coltrane. Unlike many Trane-ologists, however, Marsalis uses Trane's concepts instead of the master's notes. On Braggtown, named for a neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina, Marsalis delivers a virtual clinic on how to play 21st-century jazz, with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, pianist Joey Calderazzo, and bassist Eric Revis. The pieces range from the uptempo "Jack Baker" and "Blakzilla"--Watts's polyrhythmic props to Godzilla--to the reverent rendition of the 17th-century composer Henry Purcell’s "O Solitude," and Revis's intense, long-form composition, "Black Elk Speaks," complete with his impassioned, Mingusian bass solo, with references to Star Trek: The Next Generation. On all of the tracks Marsalis's tone is impossibly brilliant and burnished, and for my money, this recording is the worthy successor to his 1990 masterpiece, Crazy People Music.
By Eugene Holley Jr.
This album is really the tale of two Branfords, the first being the tenor saxophone wielding scrapper fighting his way through bruising workouts that sound like Crescent era John Coltrane, chased by Elvin Jones own doppelganger, Jeff "Tain" Watts. The other Branford is the romantic poet using his soprano saxophone at crawling tempos to create lush patient improvisations. Besides Marsalis and Watts, Joey Calderazzo plays piano and Eric Revis plays bass. The burning tenor songs make the biggest impact on me, they are the easiest to understand as they are firmly rooted in the past and paovide the frame of reference in the music that John Coltrane had pioneered in the mid-1960's.
"Jack Baker" leads off the album and along with the Watts feature "Blakzilla" and "Black Elk Speaks" the music is very exciting and very much in the post bop tenor saxophone tradition. Often, Calderazzo and Revis become superfluous to the music, and Marsails and Watts break away and interact much like Coltrane and Jones at their most intense. The soprano saxophone features, "Hope," "Fate" and "O Solitude" are much more difficult for me to understand, as the music is taken at a very slow pace and requires a lot of patience to listen to and understand. Marsalis also has a very limpid tone on the soprano, which although quite individual and unique, is not something that reaches out and grabs your attention. So in the end, there is an interesting album which runs the gamut from very fast to very slow, becoming the tortoise and the hare simultaneously.
By Timothy G. Niland.
Branford Marsalis- Tenor & Soprano Sax
Joey Calderazzo- Piano
Eric Revis- Bass
Jeff "Tain" Watts- Drums
01. Jack Baker (14:12)
02. Hope (11:02)
03. Fate (8:24)
04. Blakzilla (12:39)
05. O Solitude (7:48)
06. Sir Roderick The Aloof (5:45)
07. Black Elk Speaks (14:18)