161

Branford Marsalis / Joey Calderazzo: Songs of Mirth and Melancholy

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Branford Marsalis / Joey Calderazzo: Songs of Mirth and Melancholy The Swedish proverb "Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow," is one that perfectly exemplifies Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, from saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo. Their bond has solidified over time, since Calderazzo took over the piano chair from the late Kenny Kirkland in Marsalis' ensemble in 1998. While Kirkland's talent can never be replaced, Calderazzo has proven his own deep abilities as a vital member of the band—and in his own recordings. Marsalis' voice is commanding in any aspect, whether playing or speaking frankly about the music environment, and continues to resonate as a leader. Together, their rapport illuminates this recording.

The mirth begins with Calderazzo's "One Way," a rousing, bluesy piece that strolls down the boulevard like a conversation between two old souls. It sounds like it could have been written in the 1920s, and swings eternally; the piano's ragtag stride provides the perfect foil for the tenor's vociferous backtalk. The melancholy comes in Marsalis' heartfelt "The Bard of Lachrymose," captivating like an opera diva working a classical aria, its sentiment a prelude to Calderazzos' alluring "La Valse Lendall," a methodical song in perfect tandem with the soprano saxophone's lyricism. Unlike typical instrument duos, the two masters don't just play off of chord changes, but listen and engage one another.

There's also an appreciation for other works in the always compelling version of Johannes Brahms's "Die Trauernde" and a surprising rendition of Wayne Shorter's "Face in the Barroom Floor" from Weather Report's Sportin' Life (Columbia, 1984), as Marsalis' phrasing mimics Shorter's iconic horn to a science. Yet, throughout these nine pieces, both players show their own merit as composers, Marsalis' "Endymion" pointing towards the heavens, and soaring in a flight of harmony and tension, while Calderazzo's "Hope" is suffused with blissful elegance.

The release benefits not only from its musicians but also from its environment. Recorded at the Hayti Center in Durham, North Carolina, the acoustics are excellent; the tenor saxophone's warmth is almost tangible on "Precious" and the piano's skittering keys like diamond studded tap shoes on "Bri's Dance." In the end, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy is exceptional when savored; documenting the communication between two musicians and their ability to express emotion through their music.

Track Listing: One Way; The Bard Larchrymose; La Valse Kendall; Face On the Barroom Floor; Endymion; Die Trauernde; Hope; Precious; Bri's Dance.

Personnel: Branford Marsalis: saxophones; Joey Calderazzo: piano.

Title: Songs Of Mirth And Melancholy | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Marsalis Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Warsaw Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Warsaw Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "The Promise Of Happiness" CD/LP/Track Review The Promise Of Happiness
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "The Long Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Journey Home
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Ready Take One" CD/LP/Track Review Ready Take One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Jaco Pastorius" CD/LP/Track Review Jaco Pastorius
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 17, 2016

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.