Branford Marsalis: The Return of the Jitney Man
Author: Ted Gioia
I liked the Jitney Man on Jeff “Tain” Watts’s recent CD, and I am happy to see him return “one more once” (as Count Basie might say). Yet I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a jitney with so much oomph under the hood. Ah, the listener is never quite sure what a Branford Marsalis CD will contain. You might get hit broadside with some Buckshot LeFonque in your rump, or else find yourself forced to cook up a candlelit supper and open a bottle of champagne to match the mood of Romances for Saxophone. But in this latest bout of Metamorposen’ (which could be the title of this changeable saxophonist’s autobiography), we get Branford served up straight, stretching out in a taut, aggressive jazz setting. This composition has some nice twists … certainly enough to set it apart from your typical modal blowin’ chart; and the group cohesion is top notch. When Branford Marsalis digs in like this, he makes a case for his inclusion in the short list of modern day jazz tenor titans. But enjoy it while it lasts. For all I can predict, he will off jamming with a reggae band next week . . .