273

Brass Jaw: Branded

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Brass Jaw: Branded Branded is Brass Jaw's third album since baritone saxophonist Allon Beauvoisin formed the band in 2005. It appears at the end of a hectic year for the Scottish quartet which has included performing at the Rochester Jazz Festival, and gathering great reviews for its series of London Jazz Festival gigs. The band's name is a little misleading, for the line-up actually features three saxophones and a trumpet. Brass Neck might be more appropriate, because this is a band that brims with an in-your-face swagger and confidence, whether it's playing live or on record.

Brass Jaw's four members each contribute compositions, taking responsibility for arranging their own tunes: alto saxophonist Paul Towndrow takes the major share with nine writing credits. The arrangements enable the quartet to play in every imaginable combination: all four players can solo, play rhythm or take the lead line. Combining this flexibility with the different tempos, rhythms and emotions to be found in the album's 17 tunes ensures that Branded is full of variation, invention and surprise.

Baritone saxophonist Beauvoisin is the key to Brass Jaw's strength as a rhythmic, danceable, quartet and it's fitting that his throaty and rich sound opens the album, on tenor saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski's "Siddharta." Towndrow's "The Well Dented Clavicle" opens with some speedy and precise ensemble bebop, before Beauviosin duets with each of his fellow musicians in turn.

Trumpeter Ryan Quigley's "I Like You" is a more reflective and considered tune, with echoes of a Duke Ellington horn arrangement. Towndrow's "Arthur Digby Sellers Blues" is an upbeat, hard bop-ish tune that showcases Quigley's exceptional ability—his upper register playing is outstanding. Quigley and Wiszniewski are to the fore on Beauvoisin's "Flat Pack Frog," a prettier tune than the title promises, while Quigley is at his most affecting on Beauvoisin's beautiful "Left Unsaid."

Towndrow's arrangement of Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia" gives it a funky edge, followed by Quigley's arrangement of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Little Girl Blue," the beautifully mellow and fluid playing on this tune offering a clear contrast to the Zappa composition.

The cover of Branded features toy cattle painted by the group members in bold and colorful patterns: a hint, perhaps, that the music's power is akin to the red hot metal of a branding iron. But the title of "Arthur Digby Sellers Blues" suggests a link to The Big Lebowski (1998), the cult movie in which Sellers was supposedly the writer of Branded, the '60s TV Western series.

The contradictory and slightly mysterious hints about Branded's title are indicative of the band's humor; the music itself is proof of its talent. Brass Jaw's swagger and confidence is more than justified—Branded is full of powerful, affecting, superbly played music.

Track Listing: Siddharta; Duck's Chickens; Broken; Drive My Car; Left Unsaid; Rochester Rumble; March to Happiness; Branded; Frontiere Incarcerated; Arthur Digby Sellers Blues; Flat Pack Frog; The Well Dented Clavicle; I Like You; The Nightmare Room; String Theory; Peaches En Regalia; Little Girl Blue.

Personnel: Ryan Quigley: trumpet; Paul Towndrow: alto saxophone; Konrad Wiszniewski: tenor saxophone; Allon Beauvoisin: baritone saxophone.

Title: Branded | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Keywork Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Duopoly" CD/LP/Track Review Duopoly
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "Music From An Imaginary Land" CD/LP/Track Review Music From An Imaginary Land
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 14, 2017
Read "Taking Direction" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Direction
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Visiting Texture" CD/LP/Track Review Visiting Texture
by John Sharpe
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "Over the Rainbow" CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 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.