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Branford Marsalis soars
Publication: Chicago Tribune
Author: Howard Reich
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has played here frequently for more than two decades, but the set he turned in Friday night proved revelatory. Yes, the alacrity of Marsalis’ technique and the luster of his tone (especially in ballads) are well established. But to hear him floating ethereal phrases on soprano saxophone in “The Blossom of Parting,” sculpting gorgeous but unsentimental riffs on tenor in “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and burning fast and furious on alto elsewhere in the set was to appreciate anew the high craft of his work. It was a pity that drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts couldn’t appear with Marsalis’ long-standing quartet for this date, but substitute Justin Faulkner held his own. Not surprisingly, some of the most exciting playing came from pianist Joey Calderazzo, who tempered virtuosity in the name of lyricism, with ample support from bassist Eric Revis.