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Publication: The Citizen
Author: Bruce Dennill
Date: December 13, 2011
7/10 BRANFORD MARSALIS AND JOEY CALDERAZZO – SONGS OF MIRTH AND MELANCHOLY (UNIVERSAL)
Branford Marsalis had, for many years, the privilege of playing with piano genius Kenny Kirkland.
Collaborating with two talents of that ilk is not something many musicians will be able to boast about, but Marsalis has lucked out: new musical partner Joey Calderazzo is a keyboard wizard.
Calderazzo is a wonderful writer as well – his One Way is the sort of cheerfully complex, melodious stuff that makes the job of the jazz apologist supremely easy. He’s able to feel as well as Marsalis, matching the latter’s The Bard Lachrymose with his own La Valse Kendall.
Both men make their instruments perform beyond what the craftsmen who made them could have hoped for, with restraint evident in the way piano keys or saxophone buttons are pressed as well as in the pacing and mood of the pieces.
Sublime musicianship is not trotted out for its own sake, but rather used to colour a melody that was above average to begin with.
Brahms’s Die Trauernde, for instance, is the sound of a man looking into an empty glass – very, very late at night. Classy stuff.