Saturday, January 30, 2010

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
A Branford Marsalis sampler

This week, we've got some video clips of saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who will be in St. Louis on Friday, February 12 for a concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Part of the famous New Orleans musical family, he and brother Wynton first gained fame as the most-hyped of the early 1980s "Young Lions." But by the middle of the decade, Branford went his own way, continuing to perform acoustic jazz but also pursuing other interests including playing with rock musicians such as The Dead and Sting; starting the hip-hop-influenced ensemble Buckshot LeFunque; and briefly serving as bandleader on The Tonight Show.

Since the mid-1990s his main focus has been on his own quartet, classical performance and education, but in 2002 Marsalis also started his own record label, Marsalis Music, and since 2005 has been actively involved in post-Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in his hometown.

Marsalis' most recent CD Metamorphosen marks the tenth anniversary of his quartet, and today's first clip features the current edition of that quartet performing "Jabberwocky," a tune from Metamorphosen, during a recent engagement at NYC's Jazz Standard. Along with Marsalis on sax, the band features his longtime cohorts Joey Calderazzo on piano and Eric Revis on bass, plus recent addition Justin Faulkner, a 19-year-old percussive phenom who's gotten an enthusiastic reception from fans and critics since coming on board.

Down below is a video of a 2003 performance of "In The Crease," a Marsalis staple for which the saxophonist is aided and abetted by Revis, Calderazzo and Faulkner's predecessor Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums. Below that, you can see and hear the same lineup performing the first three of the four parts of Marsalis' version of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" - "Acknowledgment," "Resolution" and "Pursuance" - recorded in 2004 in Amsterdam. Not many saxophonists would have the chutzpah to take on one of Coltrane's most famous pieces so directly, but, much to Marsalis' credit, he captures the essence of it and effectively evokes Trane without resorting to simple imitation.

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