Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Branford Marsalis Quartet: Braggtown

166

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Braggtown

By

Sign in to view read count
Branford Marsalis Quartet: Braggtown
Sometimes the smallest germ of an idea can generate grist for extended exploration. Many of the late saxophone giant John Coltrane's compositions from the early 1960s onward were proof of that. From the opening two bars of "Jack Baker, the first track on Braggtown, it's clear that the same concept still applies. For nearly two minutes Branford Marsalis repeats the figure like a mantra, occasionally reharmonizing it, but ultimately returning back before the quartet settles into the energetic swing that defines a good fifty percent of the disc.

Marsalis has always been a powerful Coltrane-influenced soloist. But while Coltrane's classic quartet acts as a clear starting point for Marsalis' group with pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff "Tain Watts, this is no mere imitation. Marsalis' solo on "Jim Baker ascends to Coltrane-like sheets of sound, but he's less relentless, backing off at times to let things breathe. Watts is as muscular as the late Elvin Jones ever was, but his solos possess a fluidity that contrasts with Jones' more sharply punctuated approach.

This group has been together for nearly a decade; Calderazzo replaced Kenny Kirkland after his tragic death in 1998. Marsalis' special chemistry with Watts dates farther back to his earliest days as a leader. Watts has emerged as a fine leader/composer in his own right, and his contribution to the disc, "Blakzilla, is another modal workout that takes Coltrane as a reference point. With a rubato intro recalling the opening of A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964), it opens up into a fiery solo section that again finds Marsalis at his most powerful. In contrast to McCoy Tyner's more full-throttled accompaniment with Coltrane, however, Calderazzo is considerably sparer here, though his choices are equally provocative.

Revis, for the most part, acts as a firm anchor. His "Black Elk Speaks," the most complex chart of the set, closes the record. The quartet moves in and out of time through the convoluted head, before moving into an almost impossibly up-tempo solo section that challenges everyone to keep up. His own solo is aggressive, punctuated with chordal shots before he picks up his bow and sounds as if he's sawing right through the bass as he paradoxically yells, "It's a beautiful day today!

Half of Braggtown may be devoted to the sheer power of Marsalis' quartet, but there's subtlety and beauty at work too, evidenced on Calderazzo's soft and evocative "Hope and Marsalis' more propulsive ballad, "Fate. Marsalis' arrangement of Henry Purcell's "O Solitude is further proof that this quartet can exercise restraint as much as energy, and Marsalis' "Sir Roderick, the Aloof acts as a bridge between the classicism of "O Solitude and Revis' more contemporary closer.

Along with bassist Dave Holland's quintet, Marsalis' group is one of the longest-running groups in jazz today. Braggtown is further evidence that when you have a winning combination, you don't mess with it.

Track Listing

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

Personnel

Branford Marsalis: saxophones; Joey Calderazzo: piano; Eric Revis: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.

Album information

Title: Braggtown | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Marsalis Music


< Previous
Spark

Next >
Sound Grammar

Comments

Tags

Concerts


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Hills & Valleys
Superlocrian
Stick Together
Behn Gillece
Circles
Friends & Neighbors
Unknown Rivers
Luke Stewart Silt Trio

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.