Born into a family with an estimable legacy in the annals of jazz, Branford Marsalis has always done that legacy proud and never more so than through his conception of Marsalis Music. Conceived, according to noted jazz critic Bob Blumenthal (who works hand in hand on various projects under the MM aegis), as a homage to the profound influence of jazz on culture at large, the saxophonist sees the enterprise as a work in progress encompassing more than just recordings of himself and various members of his band. Marsalis Music also aims for the preservation of jazz as a living breathing art form.
Little wonder then, that Branford introduced Marsalis Music to the world with his debut album on the label Footsteps of Our Fathers. Comprised of four pieces by literal legends of jazz' "Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman John Coltrane and John Lewis'" the CD set the tone for albums to come in more ways than one. Notwithsanding its solemn tone, Marsalis and his quartet plunge into the music with an abandon that displays reverence for the authors and their music but a full-bodied confidence in their own abilities. Likewise, the follow-up, Romare Bearden Revealed : as related by Blumenthal, the album was a creative impulse to a planned archive of the recordings that Branford decided to interpret himself. The result is a rollicking session full of the jubilance of New Orleans jazz, climaxing with the curveball of guitarist Doug Wamble slippin' and slidin' on bottleneck guitar.