Publication: Chicago Tribune
Author: Kevin Williams
Branford Marsalis is our favorite Marsalis. He records, and they’re all pretty straightforward efforts. He’s had the same band—pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts—for 10 years, for a couple of very simple reasons. Musicians like to get paid, and they like challenges. Any pianist to has to follow Marsalis’ inventive, often John Coltrane-esque flights of fancy is going to be challenged.
Live, Marsalis is often like an impish kid. Memories come surging back of a concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Marsalis was interesting, inventive and exceptional. The place went crazy for the almost obligatory encore, and Marsalis played one. What he played was a blazing fast, head-out-the-window (not quite completely outside the melody) cover of “Dancing Cheek to Cheek.” You knew—before he told a stunned crowd—from the briefest visit to the melody toward the end. In between was a blizzard of notes, harmonic inventiveness and a band that, frankly, was showing off. Yet when guys let it all hang out in the service of the music, all’s good in the ‘hood. You can get a taste of his new disc, “Metamorphosen,” at branfordmarsalis.com. But if he’s that straight during the concert, we’d be quite surprised.