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Publication: The Olympian.com
BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET “Metamorphosen”
(Marsalis Music, *** 1/2)
Tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis leads his quartet by empowering his collaborators. Bassist Eric Revis contributes three tunes to this set; two each come from pianist Joey Calderazzo and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, while Marsalis writes one.
The group ethic extends to the playing, which is surprising and covers many moods. Calderazzo’s “The Blossom of Parting “sounds wistfully European with its minor-key melody, while Revis’ “Sphere” - Thelonious Monk’s middle name - comes off pleasantly querulous in the master’s tradition.
Watts, a Marsalis collaborator for more than two decades, creates a monster moment for improvisation on his tune “The Return of the Jitney Man,” named for his taxi-driving father, based in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The leader reaches Steeler-esque heights on this fast-moving ditty.
Marsalis dedicates this session to a raft of recently departed greats, from Michael Brecker to Joe Zawinul. Calderazzo reflects the poignant mood throughout. His tune “The Last Goodbye” mines a heartfelt mode.