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Branford Marsalis: Braggtown (2006)

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Branford Marsalis: Braggtown How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Branford Marsalis continues to push jazz in the directions that this art should seek for eternity. Never satisfied with achievements from the past, he's determined to make things new and positive happen every time out. With Braggtown, he's on fire.

Jazz's modern mainstream fights with a furious approach. It demands that the artist remain honest about his motive. Sure, there's room in the field for many other options, but the path that holds the most promise for our future is that of creativity. New ideas spark newer ones.

With Braggtown, Marsalis brings his mature quartet into focus. They push with dramatic intensity on pieces such as "Jack Baker, where the idea is to apply force in logical directions. With his tenor leading the way, Marsalis pushes hard, creating swirls of activity that he channels into structured musical circles. At the forefront of the piece is an extraordinary volume of high-octane energy.

With lyrical ballads such as Joey Calderazzo's "Hope, the quartet spins a lovely web around spiritual themes that reach down deep. Here, the leader's emotional soprano takes over and climbs to the top of the ladder, reminding us that feelings mean as much as force in our creative pursuits.

Henry Purcell's "O Solitude gives the quartet a solemn opportunity to examine its innermost feelings, while "Blakzilla opens the door for an adventurous romp through the hip world of jazz as fun. Through both kinds of explorations, the Marsalis quartet reaches its conclusion by way of an inexhaustible source of energy. The players pump each other up, creating lightning bolts as well as simple shards of melodic sunshine.

With its combination of lyrical beauty and fierce animation, this program provides a well-balanced conversation. From the heart and through his creative outflow, Marsalis proves that jazz has grown considerably during its century of development, and it will continue to do so under the leadership of folks such like him who care so much.

Track Listing: Jack Baker; Hope; Fate; Blakzilla; O Solitude; Sir Roderick, the Aloof; Black Elk Speaks.

Personnel: Branford Marsalis: tenor saxophone; soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Joey Calderazzo: piano; Eric Revis: bass; Jeff Tain Watts: drums.

Record Label: Marsalis Music

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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