421

Branford Marsalis: Braggtown

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Branford Marsalis: Braggtown "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! could be one of the underlying messages of Braggtown. While other jazz groups are experimenting with a variety of artistic freedoms, including odd instruments, spoken word, hip-hop and electronica, Branford Marsalis and his quartet are staunch on the path of hard bopping, straight-ahead acoustic music.

The music is in fact a continuation of their past three recordings on the Marsalis Music label—Eternal (2004), Romare Bearden Revealed (2003) and Footsteps of Our Fathers (2002)—which are cognizant of the heritage of jazz, yet always press forward. Whether you think jazz should be modernized or canonized, when it all said and done, this release documents a quartet at its peak, delivering its strongest recording to date.

While there's nothing new stylistically here, Braggtown offers fresh compositions from each member of the quartet, showcasing their collective bond through unique interpretations. The music as a whole is a reflection of the quartet's past and present. On Marsalis' incendiary "Jack Baker, his tenor saxophone wails, sings and digs deep within the pocket while the quartet delivers a relentless performance that would make Coltrane smile.

"Hope is another beautiful ballad penned by Joey Calderazzo, exhibiting contrasting sounds of individual isolation and group unity. The pianist plays quietly with deep emotion, then builds to a feverish pitch accompanying Marsalis' blistering soprano crescendo. "Blackzilla, penned by Jeff "Tain Watts, could be the echoes of Harlem's past or urban streets today, complete with meticulous timing, extended solos and Watts' explosive drum work.

Marsalis has always had an interest in classical music, as evidenced on Creation (Sony, 1999), and here he pulls out an obscure gem, "O Solitude, by the 17th Century composer Henry Purcell. Proving that all music can exhibit a "groove, Revis' persistent bass pattern threads the austere melody as the piano and soprano sax articulate soulful and moving solos. With the same chamber-esque essence comes the colorful "Sir Roderick, the Aloof, penned by Marsalis, revealing his penchant for both structure and creativity.

The recording closes with the smoking gun of "Black Elk Speaks, written by Revis. This complex piece stirs hard swing and free jazz dialects, and each musician throws his instrument wildly and skillfully onto the canvas. Revis delivers a memorable bass solo spotted with outrageous vocalizations and superb fret work. This level of high musicianship exemplifies Braggtown, which should once again put the quartet on the year's best list.

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.

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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Unnatural  Events CD/LP/Track Review Unnatural Events
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by James Nadal
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Clean CD/LP/Track Review Clean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2017
Read Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations CD/LP/Track Review Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A." CD/LP/Track Review The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A.
by Paul Naser
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Happy Juice" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Juice
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 31, 2017
Read "Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Karoujite" CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.