Publication: Philadelphia Inquirer
Author: Karl Stark
Date: June 26, 2011
Songs of Mirth and Melancholy
(Marsalis Music ***1/2)
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has done duet recordings with just his father, pianist Ellis Marsalis, and fellow New Orleans native, crooner Harry Connick Jr. Here the tenor and soprano saxophonist takes up with Joey Calderazzo, the pianist of his quartet since 1998, for a session that is surprisingly sublime.
Marsalis and Calderazzo sound classical in the best jazz sense: handsome melodies creating beauty and lots of free space for interaction.
Calderazzo, who wrote four of the tunes, can still get New Orleans-drenched, as he does on the old-time funk of “One Way.” His “La Valse Kendall” is rich and darkly fanciful, while Marsalis, who runs the Marsalis Music label, delivers some gorgeous melodies on “The Bard Lachrymose” and “Precious,” along with his outsize playing.
This is a sweet outing. There isn’t a hint of showing off. The takes are stately and reflective.