Branford Marsalis’s latest album is exactly what you’d expect from such a renowned and experienced bandleader. Ranging from melodic compositions to wild improvisation, and from the traditional to the modern, Marsalis’s quartet demonstrates extreme skill and creativity, and is a joy to listen to.
The opening track, Dance Of The Evil Toys, written by the quartet’s bassist Eric Revis, is an uptempo and frenetic piece. Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo lead the band with a winding melody before taking it in turns to improvise over the unrestrained energy of the double bass and drums.
The atmosphere changes suddenly with Conversation Among The Ruins, in which Marsalis plays a captivating, sombre melody alongside the piano, and drummer Justin Faulkner uses brushes to sketch out a delicate rhythm.
The mood of the album changes again with Snake Hip Waltz, written by pianist Andrew Hill and first released on his 1975 album, Divine Revelation. It’s a great track, and Marsalis takes it slower than the original, really bringing out the harmonic interplay between the saxophone and piano.
The sixth track, Life Filtering From The Water Flowers, is Marsalis’ own composition, and opens with a jarring interval on the saxophone as Joey Calderazzo creates an eerie texture using the piano strings, before the quartet enters in full with an expressive chord progression, over which Marsalis improvises. The album closes with Keith Jarrett’s complex The Windup, which is played with great energy and verve.
Overall, it’s superb, mixing the classic and the contemporary with skill and expertise. Whether you’ve heard Marsalis’s music before or not, if you’re a fan of modern jazz you should enjoy this album.
Dance Of The Evil Toys; Conversation Among The Ruins; Snake Hip Waltz; Cianna; Nilaste; Life Filtering From The Water Flowers; The Windup (61.37)
Marsalis (ts, ss); Joey Calderazzo (p); Eric Revis (b); Justin Faulkner (d). 2018, Australia.
Marsalis Music 19075914032