Branford Marsalis Quartet: Metamorphosen
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis’ first CD in two years with his decade-old working quartet, “Metamorphosen,” is buoyed by intimate conversations characterized by vivace, whimsy, mystery and lyricism. There are no subpar tunes or flagging moments as Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts deliver a nine-song masterwork — eight originals and one cover that serves as the centerpiece: an exuberant, jagged scoot through Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning,” with Marsalis’ tenor blazing the way. The set features spirited jaunts, including Watts’ lead-off tune with a piano-sax chase, “The Return of the Jitney Man,” and Marsalis’ playful, bouncy 19-bar dance, “Jabberwocky,” his sole contribution to the disc. The pure treats are the ballads, especially two melancholic gems by Calderazzo, “The Blossom of Parting” and “The Last Goodbye.” Key to the success of “Metamorphosen” is the quartet’s sense of intuitive ease and adventure that comes with longevity.