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Review: 'Four MFs' have strong melodies

Publication: The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Author: Cliff Bellamy
Date: August 10, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet. “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” (Marsalis Music)

In film director Charles Cardello’s wonderful documentary about the new recording by the Branford Marsalis Quartet, Marsalis and other members of the quartet discuss how records used to be made. Marsalis talks about Frank Sinatra singing some 20 tunes in a marathon session with orchestra. “When you listen to those Miles Davis records like ‘Nefertiti’ and ‘Miles Smiles,’ ” Marsalis continues, “they just brought those tunes in and played them. They never even played them on the road and it’s killing. I want to be like them.”

“Killing” applies to the music on “Four MFs Playing Tunes,” released this week. The record is the third the quartet has recorded at St. Joseph’s Church at Hayti Heritage Center, along with Marsalis’ duo record with pianist Joey Calderazzo, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy.” On this record, the quartet is made up of veterans Marsalis on saxophones, Calderazzo on piano, and Eric Revis on bass, with relative newcomer Justin Faulkner on drums. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 15th, 2012 — 10:17am

Review: Drummer propels Branford Marsalis Quartet

Publication: NewYorkTimes.com & HuffingtonPost.com
Author: Charles J. Gans
Date: August 13, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” (Marsalis Music)

Don’t let the understated title of the new Branford Marsalis Quartet album mislead you into thinking this is some loosely arranged jam session. Saxophonist Marsalis leads one of the most cohesive, intense small jazz ensembles on the scene today. The group’s three long-standing members – Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis – each contribute original tunes to “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” and there are covers of Thelonious Monk’s “Teo” and the 1930s ballad “My Ideal.”

The quartet’s tight interplay reflects that the group has undergone only one lineup change in more than a decade. That came in 2009 when Marsalis’ collaborator of a quarter century, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, left and was replaced by then 18-year-old high school senior Justin Faulkner, who propels the band with new energy on his studio recording debut with the quartet. Faulkner confirms his rising-star status as he engages in intricate dialogues with the tenor saxophonist and pianist on Marsalis’ “Whiplash” before climaxing with a riveting, powerhouse drum solo. On the next track, Calderazzo’s ethereal ballad “As Summer Into Autumn Slips,” the drummer displays his finesse with his soft mallet-and-cymbal accompaniment.

Submitted by Courtney on August 13th, 2012 — 04:21pm

Branford Marsalis Quartet - Four MFs Playin' Tunes

Publication: TheJazzPage.com
Author: Glenn Daniels
Date: August 10, 2012

In a year that has seen the creation of some great recordings, the latest release by Branford Marsalis stands as one of our favorites of 2012, and perhaps, a favorite of all of Marsalis’ productions. On Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, the saxophonist and his solid quartet sound as cohesive as any band can sound. The dynamic lineup includes Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Harland on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums. The compositions on the project have fantastic range and depth, with swinging numbers and a beautifully contemplative down tempo numbers. This is a work of incredible musical virtuosity and a presentation of high artistry. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 10th, 2012 — 09:48am

Michael Carvin: The Making of a Master

Publication: AllAboutJazz.com
Author: Bob Kenselaar
Date: July 30, 2012

With a career that spans half a century, master drummer Michael Carvin has plenty to look back on, although he’s mostly a forward-looking man. To say he’s been prolific puts it mildly. By his own count, he’s made some 250 recordings and toured the world five times. He has worked with such major jazz luminaries as Jackie McLean, Dizzy Gillespie, Pharaoh Sanders, and Freddie Hubbard, among many others, in addition to fronting his own bands and recording ten albums as a leader. His strong influence on jazz drumming is clear through his long teaching career as well, both through the Michael Carvin School of Drumming he founded in the early 1970s and through work at Rutgers University, the University of Hartford, the New School, and elsewhere. He estimates that he’s taught as many as 300 students, notably including Camille Gainer, Allison Miller, Ralph Peterson, Eric McPherson, E.J. Strickland, Kim Thompson, and Max Tucker.

Carvin clearly feels at home in just about any musical context, and he has a very holistic view of music, preferring not to use terms and labels that compartmentalize it. His early professional experience included stints with Motown Records and blues icon B.B. King, and he has fond memories of being drum captain in his high school marching band. In his long career in jazz, his work has ranged from the avant garde to straight ahead and much that lies in between. His own last two records albums reflect both ends of that spectrum—the explorative Lost and Found Project 2065 (Mr. Buddy, 2010) and the swinging, post-bop Michael Carvin, part of the Marsalis Music Honors Series (Marsalis Music, 2006). Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 10th, 2012 — 09:47am

Strictly New Orleans, and all that jazz…

Publication: Louisiana Weekly
Author: Geraldine Wyckoff
Date: August 6, 2012

Joy is such an essential element of jazz. It is the dynamic that elevates the interaction between musicians – their obvious thrill of communicating – and the listeners being thankful for being in its presence. So when you have Four MFs Playin’ Tunes as on this disc from saxophonist’s Branford Marsalis Quartet, the music rules and the musicians deliver.

The album kicks off with warmth and playfulness on longtime Marsalis associate, pianist Joey Calderazzo’s composition, “The Mighty Sword.” It moves at a fast, be-boppin’ pace, with the pianist seemingly owning the tune. Marsalis jumps in with his horn offering a rather sweet tone while the band with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner, the newest member of the group making his first recording with Marsalis, provides superb support.

Thelonious Monk fans can dig the staggering rhythmic elements of Revis’ contribution, “Brews,” that are echoed in Monk’s classic, “Teo,” later in the disc. New Orleanians will, perhaps, be curious as to how Marsalis will interpret the locally-referenced tune, “Endymion.” Curiously, it has an almost classical feel at the beginning with Calderazzo displaying a certain refinement. Marsalis musically provides the cacophony of Carnival – its exuberance, its drive – on a solo that celebrates the holiday and life. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 9th, 2012 — 03:21pm

Branford Marsalis: Four MFs Playin' Tunes - review

Publication: The Guardian
Author: John Fordham
Date: August 2, 2012
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 9th, 2012 — 11:57am

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes (2012)

Publication: AllAboutJazz.com
Author: Mark F. Turner
Date: July 31, 2012
Read more »

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes (Marsalis Music)

Publication: Offbeat
Author: John Swenson
Date: August 1, 2012

It’s been roughly 100 years since the uniquely American music that came to be known as jazz was being codified on the streets of New Orleans. This music has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing times, evolve into different forms and eventually migrate to all parts of the globe. It also has such malleability that cultural historians have been arguing about how to name it for more than half of its lifetime. Branford Marsalis, always a glib thinker, doesn’t quibble about nomenclature. In his refreshingly direct manner, Marsalis titled his new album Four MF’s Playin’ Tunes.

The music has produced an unending string of virtuoso players, which creates its own dilemma. No matter how well you play your instrument(s), someone else out there is as good or better, so becoming top dog is not only about technique and chops but about intangibles like vision, attitude and emotional depth. One of the things that set Marsalis apart is his fearless attitude, his willingness to let the music carry him wherever it will. If he had only taken his diploma from the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers College of hard bop and led his quartet, he would almost certainly be a lesser figure than he is today. But Marsalis pushed his music into unfamiliar, some would say unworthy, areas— joining Sting’s band, taking over the musical director’s chair for the Tonight Show, jamming with the Grateful Dead and forming the hybrid band Buckshot LeFonque.

Meanwhile he worked hard at both composition and concept. On one hand he’s developed an ambitious program to play with European-style “classical” orchestras; on the other he’s taken on the legacy of John Coltrane, performing his version of American classical music by recording A Love Supreme. He ran the Columbia Jazz A&R department long enough to sign the brilliant saxophonist David S. Ware, but stayed only long enough to realize the only label he could work with was his own. Accordingly, he left and formed his own imprint, Marsalis Music.

In this larger context, Marsalis is able to treat his quartet as the sounding board for his ideals, the roots of a vision that encompasses a larger world. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 9th, 2012 — 10:46am

Branford Marsalis shows no fear at SummerFest

Publication: UT San Diego
Author: James Chute
Date: August 9, 2012

You have to give Branford Marsalis credit: he has absolutely no fear.

It was probably pretty scary when he joined Art Blakey’s famed Jazz Messengers while still a student. And he undoubtedly he had some frightful moments while musical director of the Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” Then there were the times he performed with the Grateful Dead. Read more »

Branford Marsalis + "Treat It Gentle"

Publication: The Revivalist
Author: Eric Sandler
Date: August 6, 2012

Today we are extremely excited to release the video for “Treat It Gentle” from the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s new release Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, out 8/7 on Marsalis Music. The song, featuring influence from the great Sidney Bechet, captures the recording process for the song while encompassing amazing performances from Marsalis, Justin Faulkner, Joey Calderazzo, and Eric Revis.

Moreover, we are bringing you an in-depth interview with Branford Marsalis to bring together the story of the album as well as his thoughts on jazz music today. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s hard to fight the sheer intellect and experience with which Marsalis speaks. Read on to delve into the alway engaging insights of Mr. Marsalis.

Visit The Revivalist to view the video for “Treat It Gentle.”

We are releasing your video for “Treat It Gentle” today. Can you tell me about the process of recording and how that song came together on the record?

It’s a song that I wrote last summer. I’d been listening to a bunch of Sidney Bechet and I just wrote it in my head. A couple of songs that we wanted to put on the record didn’t sound very good; they didn’t work out well. So I just said, “Oh, I’ve got this song that I wrote.” They asked where it was, but I hadn’t written it out so I took 20-minutes and wrote out the changes for them.

You are very focused on the songs with this record. How important was the songwriting process and reaching the emotion with each song?

Well the songwriting isn’t really important; the song is important. I don’t have this obsession with writing my own material. A lot of guys want to be called composers, you know. But if you’ve ever read a score by Mahler or Wagner, you would know for a fact that I don’t compose, I write tunes. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 06:14pm