Branford Marsalis Quartet

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

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MFs Playin' Tunes

Publication: Roots Music Report
Author: Duane Verh
Date: August 13, 2012

If this disc’s title suggests a casual session, be assured the sax wielding sibling of the storied Marsalis clan and his partners provide plenty of top-flight creativity also. The breezy, intelligent swing of the leadoff track, “The Mighty Sword”, makes this dual point, and additionally serves up the first of pianist Joey Calderazzo’s several scene-stealing choruses. The spirit of play and invention continues in the quirky blues that follows, “Brews”, courtesy of the leader’s animated soprano. Marsalis’ straight-ahead tenor lights the fire that brings the rhythm section to a boil on “Whiplash”. Back on soprano, he and Calderazzo make a dusky, delicate dance of the ballad “As Summer Into Autumn Slips”. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 14th, 2012 — 11:20am

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

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 Quartet - Four MFs Playin' Tunes (2012)

Publication: Something Else!
Author: Nick DeRiso
Date: August 4, 2012

f you’ve often felt that saxophonist Branford Marsalis’ studio recordings failed to reflect the intensity and humor of his live appearances, this MF is for you.

Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, due on August 7, 2012 from Marsalis Music, telegraphs its almost offhanded sense of straight-ahead propulsion right in its very title — a humorous suggestion from the eldest of the Marsalis family of jazz performers that ended up sticking. Featured are a string of original band compositions, along with two covers — one from Thelonious Monk (“Teo”) and another dating back to the 1930s (the Sidney Bechet bonus track). Along the way, Marsalis and Co. have captured the fervor of a classic blowing-session — starting with the album’s percolating opener “The Mighty Sword,” and not often letting up through eight subsequent tracks.

“Brews” is somehow both blues and textural, even while sneaking in a few Rollins-ish quips. “Whiplash” lives up to its billing, with a rhythm that rumbles along like a rising summer storm amid an exhilarating series of runs from Marsalis. Then there’s “Teo,” with its classic downtown-traffic stops and starts.

That’s not to say Marsalis hasn’t retained his gentle way with a ballad.

He unfurls an eloquent romanticism on soprano during “As Summer Into Autumn Slips,” explores a deeply emotional place on “Maestra” and then switches to a frisky but yet still honeyed tenor for “My Ideal.” Marsalis tips a hat to his roots as a New Orleans native too, both with the briskly imaginative “Endymion” (one of the signature krewes in the annual Mardi Gras parades) and, of course, with the smooth yet distinctive Bechet number.

But there’s no less a sense of focus, no less a sense of commitment. By the time it’s over, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes has through sheer force and wit finally captured the winking intelligence — really, the loose sense of serious fun — that’s always been part of Marsalis’ stage show. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 03:08pm

Branford Marsalis Quartet – Four MFs Playin’ Tunes – Marsalis Music vinyl or CD – Marsalis Music

Publication: Audiophile Audition
Author: Robbie Gerson
Date: August 2, 2012

Superlative jazz album…digital or vinyl.

With a resume as varied as Branford Marsalis, there is a world of inspiration to influence his musical journey. He has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, Shirley Horn, Bela Fleck, Horace Silver, Roy Hargrove and many, many others. His family is the closest thing to jazz royalty, and have always represented the best of New Orleans. But for the latest release by his quartet Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, his focal point originated from a comment from legendary band leader/mentor Art Blakey. When asked to describe jazz in one word, Blakey retorted… ”intensity, intensity, intensity”.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet used this mantra in their newest release. Returning are Marsalis (soprano and tenor saxophone), Joey Calderazzo (piano) and Eric Revis (bass). Justin Faulkner, the youngest member (who joined in 2009) takes over on drums. In a divergence from usual marketing, a double-disc 180-gram audiophile album was released in April to coincide with National Record Day. [Not 45 rpm but spread-out grooves…Ed.] Now there is also an audio CD, and fans of either digital and analog music can get a wonderful dose of great jazz. As the opening Latin-tinged piano chords ring on “The Mighty Sword”, the inherent cohesion among these talented musicians is exceptional and drives the music. The opening track, “The Mighty Sword”, Marsalis slides in gracefully with his trademark soprano. Chemistry may be an overused description in music, but not here. Newcomer Justin Faulkner is a furious drummer and keeps the hard bop intensity going. Calderazzo delivers a brilliant, percolating solo. Marsalis follows with another compelling run. On the next track (“Brews”) a bluesy urban vamp (almost West Side Story) features an ensemble that intermingles fearlessly. The transition into a grittier aesthetic is seamless. The sound of the group is fresh and original. After another superlative piano solo, bassist/composer Eric Revis adds a loping bass before the piece morphs back to its initial melody. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 11:22am