Four MFs Playin' Tunes
Branford Marsalis Quartet Marsalis Music
Don't let the title of this Branford Marsalis Quartet album mislead you into thinking this is some loosely arranged jam session.
Saxophonist Marsalis leads one of the most cohesive, intense jazz ensembles around. The group's three long-standing members Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis each contribute original, and there are covers of Thelonious Monk's "Teo" and the ballad "My Ideal."
The quartet reflects that it has undergone only one lineup change in more than a decade. That came in 2009 when drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts left and was replaced by then-18-year-old Justin Faulkner, who propels the band with new energy.
Faulkner confirms rising-star status as he engages with the tenor saxophonist and pianist on Marsalis' "Whiplash" before climaxing with a riveting solo. On the next track, Calderazzo's ethereal ballad "As Summer Into Autumn Slips," the drummer displays his finesse with soft mallet-and-cymbal accompaniment.
The CD begins with two tunes showcasing Marsalis on soprano sax Calderazzo's playful "The Mighty Sword," and Revis' bluesy "Brews." It closes with Marsalis lowering the heat on the romantic standard "My Ideal" and on the bonus track "Treat It Gentle."
This album shows that Marsalis' quartet hasn't skipped a beat, effortlessly playing often complex original tunes that are thoroughly modern while referencing past jazz masters.