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Branford Marsalis: Romare Bearden Revealed

Jim Santella By

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American artist Romare Howard Bearden (1911-1988) based his paintings on memories and experiences of the rural South, the urban North, and other familiar landscapes. An exhibition of his works at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, will be travelling to San Francisco, Dallas and several other key locations through April of 2005. Several of Bearden’s paintings may be found on the Internet at various locations, including the Bearden Foundation .

Branford Marsalis has created an album that is both inspired by the artist and suitable accompaniment for viewing his work. Recollections of Sidney Bechet fill the air as well as the canvas. Oils of many colors provide scenes that recall a century of jazz. Not only did Bearden emphasize contrasting primary colors in his statements, but he also casually worked black and white in gently to punctuate his ideas. Wynton Marsalis’ J Mood album included cover art by Bearden. The painter's pieces, ten of which are reproduced in the liner booklet, covered much territory. We can find variety in both the artist’s collective works and in Marsalis’ inspired album.

Bearden wrote “Seabreeze,” which is interpreted here by a quiet tenor saxophone quartet that locates and explores every exotic element in the song. Jeff Watts wrote “Laughin’ & Talkin’ (with Higg),” which finds brothers Branford on tenor and Wynton on open trumpet, conversing over a highly spirited drum set landscape. With guitarist Doug Wamble, Branford interprets his own “B’s Paris Blues” on soprano saxophone. James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout” pairs Marsalis’ soprano with Harry Connick, Jr. on piano. Together, they summarize the early years of Bearden’s career. Romare Bearden Revealed honors the life’s work of a treasured jazz visual artist and provides the listener with aural scenery to enrich the appreciation.

Track Listing: I

Personnel: Branford Marsalis- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Wynton Marsalis- trumpet; Delfeayo Marsalis- trombone; Doug Wamble- guitar; Joey Calderazzo, Ellis Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr.- piano; Eric Revis, Reginald Veal- bass; Jeff

Title: Romare Bearden Revealed | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Marsalis Music

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