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Publication: The Guardian
Author: John Fordham
Date: August 2, 2012
It’s often observed that this fine saxophonist’s studio recordings rarely catch his live-show fire. There’s a relaxation about this one, however (Branford Marsalis suggested the title to his manager as a joke, but it reflects the unselfconscious mood) that comes very close. Original drum star Jeff “Tain” Watts has been replaced by the lighter-stepping Justin Faulkner, but the other MFs – pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis – supply Marsalis the same rocket-fuel they have since the late 1990s. There are fewer quirky set-pieces and more of a jam-like atmosphere, though Marsalis the balladeer is still eloquently present - in the flute-like soprano-sax delivery of As Summer Into Autumn Slips, or the tender tenor-sax robustness of My Ideal.But the ecstatically uptempo soprano-sax vehicle The Mighty Sword , the dazzling Whiplash (with its long trio spot just for the leader on languidly expressive tenor, pulled and nudged by bass and drums) and wryly stalking rhythm games like the blues-swinging Brews and the Monkish Teo really give this set its special spark.