Publication: Philadelphia Weekly
No doubt, the long-ago Sting sideman, former Tonight Show bandleader and guest food-taster on Top Chef is a celebrity. But undiluted jazz is the saxophonist’s message, and the relentless Branford Marsalis Quartet is the medium. In the 10 years since the untimely death of Kenny Kirkland, its original pianist, the band has gathered creative steam, proved again by the new album Metamorphosen, featuring material by each member (Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts). Brute-force swing, mournful melody, confounding rhythmic mazes, Thelonious Monk tunes—Branford and crew face every challenge with authority, maintaining a distinctive sound that only gets hotter in the live setting. Those who equate the Marsalis name with stiff traditionalism have another thing coming.