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Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes

Publication: Relix
Author: Jeff Tamarkin
Date: October/November issue

When preparing for their new album, the Branford Marsalis Quartet—with recently recruited drummer Justin Faulkner making his recorded debut with the band (the others are bassist Eric Revis and pianist Joey Calderazzo)—decided to focus not so much on the in-your-face virtuosity that’s always been incontestable, but on song structures. Some might argue that, for all of its dexterity, this band has always known its way around a lyrical melody, but rarely did one come away from a Branford Marsalis set humming. That’s doable here: Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 25th, 2012 — 10:32am

Excitement and fire

Publication: Dayton City Paper
Author: Khalid Moss
Date: September 18, 2012

Branford Marsalis brings jazz passion to Schuster Center

Harlem-born author, James Baldwin, once mused “…There is no music like that music, no drama like the drama of saints rejoicing, the sinners moaning, the tambourines racing, and all those voices coming together and crying holy unto the lord! I have never seen anything to equal the fire and excitement that sometimes, without warning, fills a church, causing the church to rock.”

Baldwin probably never heard jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis race through the chord changes to “Cherokee” but Marsalis’ music crackles with the same “fire and excitement” that can burn a hole through your soul.

The Marsalis family is the gold standard in modern jazz. Led by its patriarch, New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis, the family has established a dynasty in the jazz world that is without peer. Branford is the oldest member of the talented musical clan that includes trumpeter Wynton – composer and leader of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – the electrifying trombonist Delfeayo and the youngest sibling, drummer Jason.

Branford, born Aug. 26, 1960, heads up the high-energy Branford Marsalis Quartet, a group of musicians that understands the gritty particulars behind a sweeping gesture. Marsalis, as a soloist, has strong and sophisticated ideas. A fiendishly gifted composer, he was nominated and won the 2010 New York Drama Desk award for “Best Music In A Play” and nominated for a 2010 Tony Award for “Best Original Music or Score” for the revival of August Wilson’s “Fences.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 21st, 2012 — 09:01am

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis to perform at Schuster

Publication: Dayton Daily News
Author: Adam Alonzo
Date: September 20, 2012

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis is unconcerned that jazz musicians lack the popularity of mainstream artists.

“I chose to play this music, and I accept all the things that come with that, good, bad and indifferent,” he has said.

For those who envy the success of other musicians, Marsalis offers this advice: “Just shut up and play.”

Marsalis’ career is hardly lacking in success, however. He’s collected three Grammy awards, was nominated for a Tony, and last year was named a Jazz Masters fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts, as were his father and three younger brothers.

Marsalis will appear at the Schuster Center in downtown Dayton on Sunday as part of a tour promoting a new release by his quartet. The record features pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner.

Marsalis offered high praise for the members of his band.

“When you hire people who you feel are talented, 95 percent of the time, they’re gonna play the right thing,” he said. “They know, and they’ve listened to enough music to know what’s gonna make the song work, and you just wait a second, and they’ll hook it up. They always do.”

Submitted by Courtney on September 20th, 2012 — 10:22am

Branford Marsalis: Don’t call him an instrumentalist. He’s an MF musician

Publication: IRockJazz.com
Author: Matthew Allen
Date: September 7, 2012

“I don’t use songs as a vehicle to glorify myself. I’m going to play whatever is required to make the song successful.” These are the words of Branford Marsalis. He’s a man that understands that it’s not all about him. Considering the big names he’s played with from Sting to Gang Starr, and all the hit songs he’s played on, it’s a wonder that he hasn’t gotten a big head, but the truth is that in the realm of jazz, it’s easy for some to get caught up in their own ideas and try to show them off to whomever is listening. Marsalis, however, takes no part in that line of thinking, and it’s a main reason why he’s been as successful as he has and why he continues to grow and educate others in that the music is more important than the musician.

Marsalis has long considered himself as a musician rather than as a saxophonist. In his mind, there is a big difference between the two in that a musician is someone that knows what it takes to make a song reach its highest potential, even if it means not playing as fast as one can or as many notes as is possible. “For the instrumentalist, the instrument is the center of their life; for a musician, the music they play is the center of their life,” Marsalis explains to iRockJazz. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 10th, 2012 — 10:35am

Branford Marsalis: Four MFs Playin’ Tunes

Publication: Financial Times
Author: Mike Hobart
Date: August 31, 2012

The sax-and-rhythm quartet’s first studio recording with drummer Justin Faulkner has all the thrills of their live performances
Five Stars

Branford Marsalis’s equal-partners sax-and-rhythm quartet’s first studio recording with young drummer Justin Faulkner has all the thrills of their live performances. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 4th, 2012 — 11:48am

Branford Marsalis: Four MFs Playing Tunes

Publication: JazzWrap
Author: Stephan Moore
Date: August 29, 2012

Branford Marsalis can always be counted on for great album titles in addition to the superb quality of the music (e.g. I Heard You Twice The First Time). With his latest, Four MFs Playing Tunes, I think he might not be able to top himself this time. Yes it is a very striking title, but the music and development of the quartet is sensational.

The core of the group has remained the same for years. The difference now is the refreshing presence of Justin Faulkner. Replacing longtime bandmate, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Faulkner provides an extra boost of energy that the group just absorbs into what was already a very creative and electric force.
Submitted by Courtney on August 30th, 2012 — 10:53am

Branford Marsalis to play Grace Cathedral

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Jesse Hamlin
Date: August 26, 2012

Branford Marsalis decided to quit his coveted job as the musical director of “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno in 1994 after playing Jacques Ibert’s concerto for alto saxophone with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of another far-ranging jazz musician, Bobby McFerrin. The performance pleased the audience and critics, but not the artist.

It was dreadful, man. I hated the way I played,” says Marsalis, a forthright and funny man who’s unsparing in his praise for things he admires and blunt about those he doesn’t. “My tone was not good and my technique was shabby. I had to choose - I was either going to be a musician or stay in show business. After that concert, I decided I wanted to be a musician.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 27th, 2012 — 10:09am

CD Reviews: Jazz

Publication: Toronto Sun
Author: Darryl Sterdan
Date: August 20, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Four MFs Playin’ Tunes
Jazz
4 stars out of 5

They aren’t just any four MFs. Along with Marsalis on tenor and soprano saxes, you’ve got longtime pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis, plus wunderkind drummer Justin Faulkner. And they’re not just any tunes: This is a strong collection of new post-bop, peppered with standards, New Orleans fare and a Monk classic — all handled masterfully yet approachably. Find it.

Download: The Mighty Sword; Teo

Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 21st, 2012 — 08:56am

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 — 09:17am

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 — 03:21pm