Monday, August 06, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet - Four MF's Playin' Tunes (Marsalis Music, 2012)

In a lengthy interview in the British magazine Jazzwize and information available on his web site, it was clear that Branford Marsalis really wanted to investigate the song form of jazz on his latest album. It suits the band well, allowing them to tell stories with the originals and standards that make up the album. The group consists of Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano saxophones, Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums. Marsalis splits the songs pretty evenly between his two horns, taking the first two uptempo performances on soprano, “The Mighty Sword” is an arresting opening tune and “Brews” coming next with its choppy and unpredictable Monk-like structure. They examine one of Thelonious Monk’s own compositions, “Teo,” an excellent performance for the full band, particularly Faulkner who trades exciting passages with the other musicians on this song and the following “Whiplash.” The album closes with a couple of interesting standards. First Marsalis sticks to tenor saxophone for a lengthy version of “My Ideal.” Channeling swinging ballad masters of the past like Dexter Gordon or Ben Webster, the improvisation is lengthy, thoughtful and patient from both the leader and the band. Finally there is a bonus track of “Treat It Gentle” originally by Sidney Bechet (whose autobiography is under the same title.) Back on soprano as Bechet was known for, the band takes a medium tempo jaunty swing, bring the album back full circle to the idea of exploring songs and songforms. Four Mf's Playin' Tunes - amazon.com

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