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The Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

Mike Jurkovic By

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It was back in 2012 when the last quartet-only recording Four MFs Playin' Tunes (Marsalis Music) was released. So give more room on the floor to the evil toys dancing their pants off to the pure, wild, free-styling surge of "Dance of the Evil Toys," the killer, lead-off track to the Branford Marsalis Quartet's first full release in seven years, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul.

After touring with Sting, and in support of {[Kurt Elling}} and the subsequent Upward Spiral (Sony Masterworks, 2016), The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul finds BMQ chomping mightily at the bit. A daring, acrobatic endeavor from the pen of long-time bassist Eric Revis, "Dance of the Evil Toys" states the case like a legion of jackhammers that Revis, Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo and the quartet's rookie of ten years, drummer Justin Faulkner, are ready to play rings around any contender new, old or in-between. The tune riffs and roars as the four MFs take no prisoners.

Calderazzo's eloquently fluid ballad "Conversation Among the Ruins" takes all the outward energy of "Dance of the Evil Toys" and turns it inward with near-classical textures until Marsalis' somberly ruminative solo takes the tune to its luscious conclusion. Andrew Hill's rolling "Snake Hip Waltz" gets quirkily re-worked to fit the tune's three bar phrases into a deliciously off-kilter bayou swing, a loopy, tipsy waltz that has replay written all over it. With all four players holding tight to the core belief that power begets emotion, darkness breaks to welcome light on the dynamic peristalsis of "Nilaste," Revis's second contribution. Marsalis leads here, breaking, reeling, falling off the sonic cliff to allow Calderazzo room to roam and investigate the landscape as Revis and Faulkner slowly turn up the rhythmic heat behind him.

Marsalis' lone composition, the reflective "Life Filtering from the Water Flowers" serves as a perfect set-up to the quartet's all-out assault on Keith Jarrett's '74 highlight, "The Windup." Cranking the tune up from its already distinctive high-speed pitch, BMQ (Calderazzo and Marsalis most notably) rousingly, joyfully juggle the twists and turns with the same unerring energy and urgency that opened the album, coming full circle to create what will easily prove to be one of the finest and enduring jazz outings of 2019.

Track Listing: Dance of the Evil Toys; Conversation Among the Ruins; Snake Hip Waltz; Cianna; Nilaste; Life Filtering from the Water Flowers; The Windup.

Personnel: Branford Marsalis: saxophone; Joey Calderazzo: piano; Eric Revis: bass; Justin Faulkner: drums.

Title: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Okeh

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