Branford Marsalis Quartet

Branford Marsalis Quartet, 'Four MFs Playin' Tunes'

Publication: Boston Globe
Author: Siddartha Mitter
Date: August 7, 2012

That sure is a silly album title — it’s amusing now, but how will it sound some years down the line? This is an issue because “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” may have some staying power: a tight set of well-slung tunes that show the elements of a classic quartet outing in nice balance. In recruiting 20-year-old Justin Faulkner to the drummer’s chair, Branford Marsalis injected his quartet with fresh spirit; a lithe, quizzing dialogue between Faulkner and pianist Joey Calderazzo prevails throughout, and especially on the second half of “Whiplash,” the energetic centerpiece. A spiffy take on Thelonious Monk’s “Teo” and a lovely Sidney Bechet homage, “Treat It Gentle,” establish lineage; other highlights include an angular blues, “Brews,” by bassist Eric Revis, and Calderazzo’s searching ballad “As Summer Into Autumn Slips.” The album’s approach is familiar, conservative perhaps, but the music has soul — particularly when Marsalis wields the soprano sax — and the net effect, title aside, is wholly satisfying. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 11:59am

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

Publication: Burning Ambulance
Author: Phil Freeman
Date: August 7, 2012

Since the dawn of the millennium, Branford Marsalis‘s quartet has been steadily turning out albums that, without ever making landmark statements, nevertheless push restlessly against the strictures of modern jazz. In a way, this album, which introduces new drummer Jason Faulkner, is a bookend to the group’s first release, 2000′s Contemporary Jazz, which introduced pianist Joey Calderazzo to the lineup following the death of Kenny Kirkland, who’d worked with Marsalis (and his brother Wynton) since the 1980s. Like Contemporary Jazz, its title—Four MFs Playin’ Tunes—is an emphatic statement of purpose not unlike Ornette Coleman‘s This is Our Music or Thelonious Monk‘s Monk’s Music.

The actual music offers a similar line-in-the-sand challenge to the listener. Four MFs begins with three straight pieces featuring Marsalis on soprano saxophone, an instrument that can ruin a jazz record quicker than any other (even the bagpipes are better—seek out the work of Rufus Harley). Still, it must be said that Marsalis’s voice on the soprano is instantly identifiable, and more enjoyable than many of his squawking, squiggling, circular-breathing peers. And the band behind him is terrific. Calderazzo is a McCoy Tyner-ish pianist, spinning out baroque swirls of notes with a lightning-fast right hand; Eric Revis‘s bass is thick and human, always bolstering and almost never intruding; and Faulkner is a ferocious drummer, slamming the kit around with the fury and boundless energy that only a 20-year-old can muster. But for all the ballistic power he displays on burnout tunes like “Whiplash,” he’s just as willing and able to pull back and sensitively accompany a ballad like “As Summer into Autumn Slips” (another soprano tune, but, again, a forgivable one given the beauty of Marsalis’s handling of the melody). Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 8th, 2012 — 10:35am

Branford Marsalis' saxy 'MFs'

Publication: USA Today
Author: Steve Jones
Date: August 7, 2012

Marsalis has always been one of the more accessible jazz musicians, and this latest offering from his tightly-knit band is up to its usual high standards.

Joining Marsalis are pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis, but this is their first album without drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, who left in 2009 after more than 20 years in the group. Drummer Justin Faulkner, who has played concert dates with them for the past three years, makes his recording debut with the quartet.

The Calderazzo composition The Mighty Sword kicks things off in energetic fashion and establishes the conversational interplay between the musicians that is evident throughout the album. The pianist also contributes the lovely As Summer Into Autumn Slips and both Marsalis (Whiplash, Endymion, Treat It Gentle) and Revis (Brews, Maestra) offer originals of their own.

The band presents a variety of moods, but there is always a certain joy in the music they make. Read more »

Two formidable, famous-name saxophonists

Publication: IndyStar.com
Author: Jay Harvey
Date: July 9, 2012

Branford Marsalis and Ravi Coltrane both have new CDs out. With the oldest Marsalis brother, you have to get past the flippant false modesty of the title of this quartet disc: “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes” (Marsalis Music). With Ravi, the remarkably independent son of the most revered post-bop saxophonist, you aren’t asked to react to any display of attitude in order to focus on the music (“Spirit Fiction,” Blue Note).

To take up the Marsalis quartet first, rarely will you encounter such fervent rapport that seems so open-hearted to different kinds of expression. There’s propulsive updated bop to get things rolling (“The Mighty Sword”), close-grained, witty tributes (Monk in “Teo,” with Marsalis doing Charlie Rouse, Sonny Rollins’ prismatic way with standards in “My Ideal” ), poised, haunting ballads (“Maestra” and “As Summer Into Autumn Slips”) and exuberant, fecund virtuosity (“Whiplash” and the Ornettish “Endymion”).

Longtime pianist colleague Joey Calderazzo helps keep the lyricism intact; the love of tunes underlies everything the two kindred spirits play. Eric Revis is an adept, slightly self-effacing bassist, but it’s no doubt the better part of valor not to crowd the Joey-Branford duopoly. Youngster Justin Faulkner on drums is imaginative for such a powerhouse; his churning solo on “Whiplash” is among the disc’s highlights. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 20th, 2012 — 12:39pm

Record Store Day Specials and Some Asian Vibes

Publication: New York Times
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: April 27, 2012

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Contrarianism suits the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, though probably not as much as he likes to think. The title of his new album, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” hurls a rejoinder to the rarefactions he sees elsewhere in jazz. He’s overstating the point, but maybe that’s the motivation he needed. Anyway, the album is a knockout: hard nosed and hyperacute, tradition minded but modern, defined by the high-wire grace of his working band.

The tunes — mostly by Mr. Marsalis and two of his band mates, the pianist Joey Calderazzo and the bassist Eric Revis — fall in line with the group’s longstanding house style, either ruminative and shadowy (“Maestra”) or intrepid and swinging (“Whiplash”). And the evident commitment in the playing, including that of the fearless young drummer Justin Faulkner, gives the material a strong sense of lift.

For now the album is available only on Marsalis Music as a deluxe double LP: released last week for Record Store Day, it will be available on CD and digital formats on Aug. 7.


For Nate’s other Record Store Day picks, visit the full article here. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 18th, 2012 — 03:33pm

CD: Branford Marsalis

Publication: Rifftides
Author: Doug Ramsey
Date: July 15, 2012

The Marsalis quartet achieves openness without abandoning harmonic guidelines, hipness without complex chord permutations. A saxophone soloist who manages to meld aggressiveness and wryness, Marsalis is at his peak here. The delight that he, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Reavis and young drummer Justin Faulkner find in supporting and surprising one another is likely to also affect the listener. The tunes are by members of the band except for Thelonious Monk’s “Teo” and Richard Whiting’s “My Ideal,” the latter with a tenor solo that combines tenderness and wit. A highlight: Marsalis’s “Treat it Gentle,” recalling Sidney Bechet’s passion on soprano, but not his wide vibrato. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on July 16th, 2012 — 10:31am

Branford Marsalis Quartet: Cabaret Jazz room at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, March 31

Publication: Seven
Author: Steve Bornfeld
Date: April 5, 2012

Three settings: Soothe your soul. Warm your soul. Scorch your soul. However they fiddle with the thermostat, the Branford Marsalis Quartet keeps the musical temperature exquisitely cool.

Following the SFJAZZ Collective’s listless opening of the Cabaret Jazz room, the new venue got the true launch it deserves courtesy of the Marsalis collective. Had The Smith Center not been constructed of such sturdy stuff, this foursome—sax man Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and superhuman drummer Justin Faulkner—would have blown the roof off the place and sent it hurtling into Symphony Park.

Facing a packed, rapt house, the ensemble put the crowd into orbit via “The Mighty Sword,” a seven-minute rocket ride of propulsive riffs with soaring solos from the ensemble’s new album, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes. Butter could melt inside the bell of Marsalis’ horn, warmth commingling with virtuosity to produce his singular, signature sound.

“We’re going to do this song by Barry Manilow,” Marsalis deadpanned to audience giggles—yes, he was joshing—but there was nothing “Copacabana”-like about this night and this place, which echoed more with the vibe of the legendary Birdland.

Screams of appreciation and standing ovations accompanied not just songs but individual solos. Especially dazzling was Faulkner, who just might be three drummers in one, his solo so powerful and exhilarating that you’d wonder if the late Buddy Rich had shucked off his immortal coil and returned in Faulkner’s body. Rub drumsticks together this vigorously and you make fire. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on May 1st, 2012 — 12:08pm

3 vinyl albums that may lure you to shop on Record Store Day

Publication: Seattle Times
Author: Paul de Barros
Date: April 20, 2012

It’s Record Store Day! This is the fifth year independent record stores in the U.S. and Europe have banded together to celebrate the ritual of browsing and shopping for physical recorded music in a brick and mortar store. Last year, more than 700 U.S. stores participated. This year the event has expanded, though some stores may not be “official” RSD stores and therefore may not carry the special, limited-edition RSD albums — more than 200 — being released today. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 25th, 2012 — 03:44pm

Branford Marsalis at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center

Publication: Las Vegas Weekly
Author: Robin Leach
Date: April 3, 2012

Three-time Grammy Award winner Branford Marsalis performed an incredible concert Saturday night at Cabaret Jazz in the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown’s Symphony Park. Four master musicians each starred as solo experts, yet united in a fusion of joyful sound. The drummer, the pianist and the bass player were as remarkable as the saxophone star.

It was a memorable Las Vegas night — intimate, warm and friendly. You felt as if you were onstage with them throughout the entire 75 minutes. There were two standing ovations and thunderous applause from jazz fans. The sound was superb. With its subdued lighting, Cabaret Jazz is reminiscent of a New York supper club set in an Art Deco building. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 5th, 2012 — 12:41pm

Marsalis quartet in top form at Smith Center

Publication: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Author: Carol Cling
Date: April 1, 2012

Those expecting a one-man show must have been disappointed.

But for those who had come to see — and hear — the Branford Marsalis Quartet, the what’s-in-a-name question took a back seat to the music.

Playing two sold-out shows Saturday night at The Smith Center’s intimate Cabaret Jazz club, the Marsalis quartet demonstrated that jazz is nothing if not a team sport — and that a solo in the spotlight is no match for an in-sync team grooving in top form.

Oh, there’s no mistaking Marsalis’ star presence. After all, he’s the one with the famous name, the Grammy Awards, and the résumé that stretches from Sting to Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.”

Despite his past pop and funk forays, however, there’s no mistaking his serious commitment to, and serious command of, a wide-ranging jazz repertoire.

During the first of two Saturday night sets, Marsalis led his equally accomplished bandmates — pianist Joey Calderazzo , drummer Justin Faulkner and bassist Eric Revis — through a stylistically varied but consistently rewarding program, one that showcased all four players delivering everything from blues to bop. And beyond.

The quartet kicked off in high gear with Calderazzo’s rousing “The Mighty Sword,” its jittery rhythms setting the stage for Marsalis’ fluid solos (on soprano sax) and equally fluid interplay among his fellow musicians. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on April 2nd, 2012 — 03:09pm