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The Branford Marsalis Quartet's latest release pays homage to one of America's least known but most inventive artists: Romare Bearden. The artist's central medium was collage which fused paint, clippings, paper and other materials into powerful visual works that are now on display across the country in venues such as the Smithsonian, colleges, and prestigious galleries. Born in North Carolina, Bearden moved to Harlem in 1914 where his love for jazz combined with the fertile atmosphere of artists and musicians of the era flourished. The music of Romare Bearden Revealed challenges listeners to see the music and viewers to hear the paintings.
The music successfully captures the essence of Bearden's art by bringing certain pieces to sound. Bearden's rich historical background comes to life aurally on selections such as the 1938 Cotton club Revue "I'm Slappin' Seventh Avenue"' and the elegant "Seabreeze," which were both written by the great Duke Ellington. A rustic and "down home" feel is portrayed on "B's Paris Blues" and "Autumn Lamp."
The musicians for the recording include Branford's main quartet as well as guest musicians Doug Wamble, Harry Connick Jr, and other members of the Marsalis family. Harry Connick provides memorable piano work on "Carolina Shout." Wynton shines bright appears on "J Mood" and "Laughing and Talkin' (with Higg)" which reflect on later works by Bearden. Branford and his quartet are in their usual tight form with impeccable, authentic performances that bring Bearden's art to sound. By both listening to the music and hopefully viewing some of Romare Bearden's work it may be easy to see and hear the creative connection between the music and the artist.
For information on Romare Bearden and his artwork visit the Bearden Foundation on the web.
Track Listing: 1. I?m Slappin' Seventh Avenue 2. Jungle Blues 3. Seabreeze
4. J Mood 5. B's Paris Blues 6. Autumn Lamp
7. Steppin' On The Blues 8. Laughin? & Talkin'(with Higg)
9. Carolina Shout
Personnel: Quartet - Branford Marsalis - saxophones;
Joey Calderazzo - piano; Eric Revis - bass;
Jeff Tain Watts - drums
Guests: Harry Connick Jr - piano; Delfeayo Marsalis - trombone;
Ellis Marsalis - piano; Jason Marsalis - Drums;
Wynton Marsalis - trumpet; Reginald Veal - bass;
Doug Wamble - guitar.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.