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: From the opener, “The Mighty Sword,” which showcases the leader playfully navigating his soprano saxophone, to the ebullient take on Thelonious Monk’s “Teo” and on through the easygoing, shuffling “Treat It Gentle,” Four MFs Playin’ Tunes takes its title to heart.