Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo: Songs of Mirth and Melancholy

Publication: PopMatters
Author: Will Layman
Date: June 14, 2011

Branford is the fun Marsalis, the Marsalis who played with Sting and the Grateful Dead, the funny Marsalis who fooled around with a movie career (Throw Momma From the Train) and who was the bandleader and sidekick when Jay Leno first took over the Tonight Show way back.

But that can be deceptive. Branford, in many ways, has been just as “serious” about music as his polemical brother Wynton. Particularly when it comes to playing passionately straight-ahead jazz, Branford has been more hard-nosed. His quartet has been a long-standing institution that rarely indulges in themed records or gimmicks. Mostly, Branford has insisted on charging post-bop and aching classic ballads, drawing on the tradition of Rollins, Coltrane and Byas. Branford’s quartet has been an ain’t-no-foolin’-around outfit.

Since the pianist Kenny Kirkland passed away in 1998, the piano chair in Branford’s quartet has been decisively owned by Joey Calderazzo. Read more »