Branford Marsalis Quartet

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

Publication: Pasatiempo
Author: Paul Weideman
Date: October 12, 2012

This album opens with pianist Joey Calderazzo’s “The Mighty Sword.” He and soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis trade leads over a dynamite rumbling-strings, symbal-crashing foundation by bassist Eric Revis and new drummer Justin Faulkner - he joined three years ago, while Revis and Calderazzo go back with Marsalis to 1997’s Music Evolution. The leader said they could have done the Four MFs program in one day, as things used to be done at Blue Note Records, but those were often simple blues laid down like jam sessions. “The tunes on this record are very difficult, but we are tight enough to make them sound easy, ” Marsalis says on his website. “The difference is that we are a working band.”

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Submitted by Courtney on November 21st, 2012 — 11:07am

Branford Marsalis embraces his live shows

Publication: Des Moines Register
Author: Joe Lawler
Date: November 11, 2012 

“It was great to see your concert.” Branford Marsalis hears that kind of compliment regularly, and as a musician, it used to perplex him a bit — that people were there to see him, not to hear him.

But now he understands that people listen to records but want to see a performer live on stage, and he wishes more jazz musicians would take that to heart.

“People hear with their eyes,” Marsalis said during a phone interview. “You watch a lot of jazz musicians play now, and they don’t look like they’re into it. Someone will finish a solo and stare at their nails while another guy is soloing. I’m not talking about a dance show, but just sitting around doesn’t really suit what we’re trying to do.”

Marsalis said his quartet doesn’t plan out what it is going to do on stage. When pianist Joey Calderazzo stands up while performing, it’s because he’s feeling it in a song. When drummer Justin Fauklner gets his arms and legs moving like crazy, it’s to make sure the music is moving at the proper beat. But it’s a lot more entertaining to watch than four men calmly playing their instruments. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 12th, 2012 — 12:50pm

Marsalis, jazz quartet wow crowd

Publication: Omaha World-Herald
Author: Todd von Kampen
Date: November 10, 2012

Three numbers into a brilliant 90-minute set Friday night, Branford Marsalis had a confession to make: The saxophonist and the rest of his jazz quartet hadn’t played together since September.

Their so-called rust hardly showed, but the foursome’s considerable musical skills account for only part of the reason. The rest of their formula reflected what Marsalis’ brother Wynton once famously told documentary master Ken Burns: At its best, jazz amounts to an ongoing dialogue among musicians, with their instruments as the voices.

Branford and his mates gave the Holland Performing Arts Center audience a master class on the subject. They played only eight identifiable pieces (including Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing” as the encore), but as Marsalis explained: “All we do is take our time. No rush.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 12th, 2012 — 11:18am

JAZZ 2K: CD Picks of the Week

Publication: Nippertown!
Author: J Hunter
Date: October 19, 2012

BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET
Four MFs Playin’ Tunes
(Marsalis Music)

“Nothing to see here; everything’s under control.” That’s the underlying message of the title to the first Branford Marsalis Quartet disc without longtime drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts. That’s a big loss to the bottomless musical hive-mind that is the BMQ, but between their rip-snorting Proctors show in February and the cockeyed bop that drives MFs whirling opener “The Mighty Sword,” it sounds like 20-year old wunderkind Jason Faulkner has been assimilated just fine, thank you very much. He bubbles and bashes and bangs, while volcanic pianist Joey Calderazzo shows he’s light-years from the time when he was “that new guy” who replaced the late Kenny Kirkland. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on October 25th, 2012 — 09:03am

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin’ Tunes

Publication: The Abso!ute Sound
Author: Bill Milkowski
Date: October 1, 2012

This wryly-titled offering is the first to feature drummer Justin Faulkner, who replaced Jeff “Tain” Watts in the BMQ lineup in 2009 at age 18. This 180-gram double LP (also released on CD) is an immaculate-sounding collection that puts a premium on melody, though not at the expense of virtuosic soloing. Pianist Joey Calderazzo, a BMQ member since 1998, has matured into a first-rate composer and stellar improviser who relies less on his considerable chops than he did when he broke in with Michael Brecker’s group in the early 90s. His riff-oriented “The Mighty Sword” is as memorable as anything he’s ever written while his ethereal “As Summer Into Autumn Slips” beautifully showcases Marsalis’ unparalleled soprano playing. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on October 4th, 2012 — 04:38pm

Four MFs Playin' Tunes: Branford Marsalis Quartet

Publication: Jazztimes
Author: Thomas Conrad
Date: October 4, 2012

Branford Marsalis is onto something here. In press notes, he explains, “We need to quit thinking of songs as vehicles and think of them as songs. … What we are trying to do is figure out the emotional purpose of each song … and then play according to that purpose.” Marsalis’ bands have always had chops to burn. Few ensembles have used songs as “vehicles” with more outrageous technical prowess. But often, in concert and on record, they paraded virtuosity at the expense of pacing. Art Blakey’s one-word description of jazz was “intensity.” Sometimes Marsalis believed it too much.

The new album is different because it contains more focused, unified development of specific song forms. There is still rarefied blowing by Marsalis on tenor and soprano saxophones and Joey Calderazzo on piano. But discipline creates a new musicality. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on October 4th, 2012 — 09:58am

Branford Marsalis Quartet: 'Just' Playin' Jazz

Publication: Martinez News-Gazette
Author: Gordon R. Webb
Date: September 30, 2012

Fellow musicians, critics and the listening public alike must have thought jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis had lost his mind back in 2009, when he hired 18-year-old Justin Faulkner to replace Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums. After all, Watts – regarded by many as the preeminent jazz drummer of his generation – had been in Marsalis’ quartet for nearly a quarter century and Faulkner was still in high school! But as we all know, there is a fine line between genius and insanity, and as it turns out, Marsalis’ decision was crazy-smart.

It was a sure thing!” says Marsalis. “I heard him play a slow blues and that was it … I knew it. He understood how to groove, and that the key to swinging isn’t in the beats you play, it’s the space in-between the beats … and he had a great left hand. The kid was raw, but the potential was there and I knew we could teach him everything else.”

After a two year jazz ed incubation period, Marsalis ushered Faulkner and longtime collaborators Joey Calderazzo (piano, since 1999) and Eric Revis (bass, since 1997) into a Durham, N.C., church last October, to record tracks for a new album. The results were released in August 2012 on CD and vinyl, entitled “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music).” But please don’t let the off-hand title fool you into thinking the new record is some half-hearted jam session, because this is serious, modern jazz, spiritedly performed at an extraordinarily high level. The title comes from there being no overall concept or theme involved in the making of “Four MFs Playin‘ Tunes.”

Our concept is just to play jazz,” says Marsalis in the overview promo video. “Learn 100 years of it … and play whatever.”

Every moment of “whatever” has a refreshingly loose, living-in-the-moment feel, but it’s a well-rehearsed spontaneity that comes from years of building trust on the bandstand. Read more »

Marsalis Wows in First of Candler Series

Publication: Emory Wheel
Author: Monica Yang
Date: September 24, 2012

On Friday evening at 8 p.m., I found myself sitting amongst a packed audience at Emory’s very own Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, eagerly waiting “An Evening with Branford Marsalis” to begin, the kick-off show for the 2012-2013 Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series.

The evening marked the first of eight shows this year. The Candler Concert Series are incredible opportunities to see world-famous performers showcase their talents right on our campus.

Branford Marsalis, the lead saxophonist, is not only a well-known musician, but he is also a Tony Award-nominated composer and a three-time Grammy Award winner. The famous jazz quartet included Branford Marsalis on saxophone, Joey Calderazzo on the piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on the drums.

The quartet tuned their instruments, and Marsalis stepped up to the microphone to welcome the crowd. He threw out a few well-received jokes, setting a light-hearted mood in the theater. Afterwards, the jazz quartet began their performance with a riveting piece called “The Mighty Sword,” written by Marsalis.

Any lingering sereneness departed from the audience, as the unpredictable and wild nature that is jazz filled the room. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 28th, 2012 — 09:10am

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