Jazz and Blues: Branford Marsalis + Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy

Publication: TONE Audio
Writer: Jim Macnie
Date: May 2011

Seems like piano/sax duets offer lots of elbowroom. In the large, each participant has leeway when it comes to bending a melody or messing with a tempo. Indeed, it was an extended pas de deux from Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons that helped cement my love of jazz decades ago, and from the Steve Lacy/Mal Waldron exchanges to the Archie Shepp/Horace Parlan outings, I’ve been a fan of the keys and reeds setting ever since. Two new titles present their participants in a similar environment.

(To read Macnie’s comments about Cosmic Lieder from Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp, visit here)

Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo have no trouble with rapport, either. The pianist has been part of his pal’s quartet for years, and their hook-up is deep. The title of this fresh outing describes the program’s duality of moods, and compared to the Jones/Shipp date, it arrives with a smile on its face. But a sober atmosphere wafts through the music as well.

Marsalis has been shedding on classical music for decades now, and the poise and grandeur associated with that realm shows up here. “The Bard Lachrymose” is a curiously intimate lament- oversized emotions wisely played small. “Bri’s Dance” bounces gracefully, full of animation albeit guided by the responsibilities of partnership. Calderazzo’s left hand is a festifull of forward motion and drives the romp with that key element of such duets: daring.

Submitted by Bobby on August 8th, 2011 — 12:17pm

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