On his fourth release for his own Marsalis Music label, Branford Marsalis shows why his quartet is among the best small groups currently active. With pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff "Tain Watts joining him once more, Marsalis encouraged his musicians to write for the band, resulting in a wide range of fresh material for the session.
The leader's "Jack Baker is a swirling theme built from a repeated riff, while Calderazzo's poignant ballad "Hope builds slowly in intensity in an extended workout, with Marsalis switching to soprano sax. Marsalis also utilizes the smaller horn in his bittersweet "Fate, a mournful work that suggests someone attempting to pick up the pieces after the breakup of a long relationship. Watts contributed the thunderous "Blakzilla, a performance reminiscent of the energy of Coltrane's classic quartet, while Revis brought the equally furious "Black Elf Speaks.
One surprise inclusion among all these originals is Baroque composer Henry Purcell's "O Solitude, a 17th Century work treated with reverence that includes a resonant tenor sax solo and Calderazzo's elegant, spacious piano.
Track Listing: Tracks: Jack Baker; Hope; Fate; Blakzilla; O Solitude; Sir Roderick,
the Aloof; Black Elf Speaks.
Personnel: Branford Marsalis: tenor sax, soprano sax; Joey Calderazzo:
piano; Eric Revis: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.