Branford Marsalis – In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral – Sony/Okeh, 64:57 – [10/28/14] *****
Publication: Audiophile Audition
Author: Jeff Krow
Date: October 26, 2014
Playing a solo recital concert in a sacred and iconic cathedral is quite an undertaking. Such is the task that the adventurous saxophonist Branford Marsalis took on when he played in a solo setting at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on Oct. 5, 2012. This famous cathedral was the setting for Duke Ellington’s famous Sacred Concerts in the 1960s, and since 1983 it has been used for jazz, baroque, and classical concerts. Its acoustics are marvelous and its setting is inspiring to both musicians and audiences. Its beauty is comparable to cathedrals in Europe. [And it has an outdoor labrinyth…Ed.]
For his repertoire Branford included composed and improvised material ranging from Bach, compositions by Steve Lacy and Ryo Noda, and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” Marsalis titled his improvisations simply “Improvisations 1-4.” They were composed “on the spot” based on the vibe that was present in the cathedral at the time.
He notes that his goal was to not to play “too many notes” but to play material with “great melodies, not being ‘too notey’ and utilizing the feeling in the room.” Branford indicates that the cathedral has a seven-second delay.
… In My Solitude is a real treat, both for its excellent cathedral sound, as well as the saxophone mastery of Branford Marsalis.