Jump to content

Did I just hear what I just heard?


Jim R
 Share

Recommended Posts

I was just enjoying "The Jazz Oasis" program on KCSM, a nightly show that features a lot of old and new ballad recordings. When I turned it on, there was this extremely tasty tenor interpretation of an old tune that I recognized, but couldn't name (found out later it was "Dinner for one please, James"). This guy was playing the shit out of it. I didn't recognize the player either, but from the sound of the recording (or maybe it was just my system...?), I would have SWORN that it was from the 50's or 60's. The only guess that was occuring to me was that it might be an old Gene Ammons recording. I have some Jug recordings, but I have to admit I still can't recognize him all that easily. Anyway, the whole track was fantastic. I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of this kind of playing, and this guy was getting the absolute most out of those changes without overdoing anything. Sweet tenor playing, IMHO. So, as the track winds down, I'm praying that I get an I.D., because there's a chance I'm going to have to walk away soon. Sure enough, here comes the voice of the DJ, and the mystery player from the 1950's/60's turns out to be... BRANFORD MARSALIS! Apparently it's a new release on Rounder called "Eternal". I own... let's see... hmm... ZERO Branford Marsalis recordings. :rolleyes: I've heard him play before, but not like THIS.

After doing a search here, it looks like there's only been one thread with "Branford" in the title. And that thread only contained 2 posts. I'll admit- I've been apathetic about the guy. Without getting too much into the whole Marsalis family hype and controversy, does anybody have any educated opinions about his playing? Was this experience of mine a fluke in any way, or has he impressed anybody like this? I'm still in shock. I hope the rest of the CD is half as good as this track...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I certainly haven't heard that cd. Branford can really play. I have some of his recordings and play them on occasion. He sort of lost me towards the end of the nineties because he seemed to be locked into a burnout solo bag. . . . I wanted him to play more melodic and mellow material like this you heard because he can do that very well . . . . That is probably a good cd worth pursuing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tunes on "Eternal" are:

The Ruby and the Pearl

Reika's Loss

Gloomy Sunday

The Lonely Swan

Dinner for One Please, James

Muldoon

Eternal

Can't say I'm familiar with any of these.

Players include Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Jeff Watts on drums.

Sounds interesting. I'm a sucker for a good ballad album.

Up over and out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I first got turned onto Branford when he played the Newport festival a few years ago. I didn't expect much, but he was the best act that day by far- real impressive. Some difficult original material but swingin' and solid. This is when his Requiem CD came out, which I promptly picked up that day. Highly recommended.

Branford is the real deal, no doubt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've heard "The Ruby & The Pearl" off of ETERNAL on KNTU, played on soprano as a stately, Bechet-esque march/tango/whatever. It's nioce.

Branford can play. Period. He's never had a truly personal voice, but he's reached the point where it's become more than apparent that that's not his game. Playing music is (I can explain that if you like, but trust me, you don't :g ).

I've respected him from Day One, and dug him in varying degrees since. The sins of his brother are not visited upon him in my book. He "stays within himself" very nicely in all regards.

Albums of his that I've heard on the air and found interesting enough to pursue further are BLOOMINGTON (live trio, and enticingly quirky in a user-friendly manner) and TRIO JEEPY (GREAT Milt Hinton on that one). Others that I've heard and liked well enough (but not enough to drop buckage on) are THE DARK KEYS, I HEARD YOU TWICE THE FIRST TIME (interesting "roots" approach on some of the pieces here), & THE BEAUTIFUL ONES ARE NOT YET BORN.

I'd suggest that, unless you know that you're really, REALLY going to like his playing over the course of an album, you explore the used bins first. I find Branford's playing to be interesting enough, but over the course of an entire CD, his limitations (which are entirely in the "personality" department, definitely NOT technically) become evident as the disc goes on. On a cut or two, yeah, he's capable of grabbing you by the whatevers, but more than that, my attention begins to wander. Not his fault though. He's just playing the best he can, and you gotta respect that. I bought the two that I mentioned above used, and feel that they provided fair value. Not sure I'd feel that way if I'd have paid full price.

But definitely get TRIO JEEPY - it was a double LP set, and as such, gives you a far more sustained taste of Branford than is probably good for anybody, including himself, but Milt Hinton is a GAS on that one! And also check him out on Sonny Rollins' FALLING IN LOVE WITH JAZZ - he's only on two cuts, and is useless on one (but on that same cut, Sonny is also, so it's a wash...), but on the other, "I Should Care", he does an uncannily apt "impression" of Sonny's mid 1950s style, which, coming after Rollins' own masterful statemetn of the opening melody in his "contemporary" style (which ends on a really beautiful sustained, downwardly bending note which has the effect of "pulling back the curtain" to bring on his older self, er, his guest), is one of the niftier superimpositions you'll hear. Besides that, it's a damn fine latterday rollins album, overall.

Hey - Branford was hip enough to know that although Sting & Jay Leno were both commercial gigs, that they were still totally different animals after the checks got cashed, and he was hip enough to act accordingly in each case. I got a shitload full of respect for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wayne Shorter opens SECOND GENESIS with "Ruby & The Pearl."

Branford made a lot of fans in the 90s playing well with the Grateful Dead as well. I've enjoyed the music I've heard from him. I think he gets a bad rap because he's Wynton's brother.

Well, Branford gets pretty doctrinaire in his own way sometimes, (read some of his statements after he lost the Columbia gig) but he certainly doesn't deserve disrespect or a bad rep for that.

Jsngry: You might want to check more of this cd out. I've been sorta respectful but lukewarm about Branford, but I think you might count this one a cut above his usual.

--eric

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tunes on "Eternal" are:

The Ruby and the Pearl

Reika's Loss

Gloomy Sunday

The Lonely Swan

Dinner for One Please, James

Muldoon

Eternal

Can't say I'm familiar with any of these.

Players include Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Jeff Watts on drums.

Sounds interesting. I'm a sucker for a good ballad album.

Up over and out.

I have "Dinner for one..." on THE HAWK IN HI FI, J.J.'s TANGENCE, and Nat Cole SINGS FOR TWO IN LOVE.

"The ruby and the pearl" is also on BACK TO THE TRACKS

"Gloomy Sunday" is on Johnny Griffin's WHITE GARDENIA. Sarah did it too, I think.

======

Thanks for the responses so far. I think I underestimated the talents of Mr. Marsalis. As I said, I'd heard him before, and actually I thought he was pretty talented, but this track really surprised me. I hear you in terms of "personality" limitations, Jim. I'll be very surprised if the whole CD is as good for me as this track was. I'm still curious about the sound on this recording... it had that touch of echo (or reverb?) that you rarely hear anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm still curious about the sound on this recording... it had that touch of echo (or reverb?) that you rarely hear anymore.

Dude, don't be surprised. When all things Marsalis ruled at Columbia in the 80s, I remember reading an interview w/Branford about how he and Delfayo were checking out old studio logs, band setups, talking to all the old engineers they could find about mikes and mike placement, EVERYTHING about how the shit got recorded back then. I got the impression that he was taking it all seriously, not just playing games with it. Probably another aspect of the "craftsman" in him, which is what I think he really is, and I mean absolutely no disrespect in saying that. It's honest work and it's hard work. Gotta respect that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very noice statement above, Jim!

I second the recommendation on Trio Jeppy - take note that the double LP release includes more tracks than the subsequently issued CD.

In a time where it is increasingly difficult to find an indentity on any instrument, I find his way of playing a very respectable one, and I have the impression he is sincere in what he tries to pursue - especially in his band with the late Kenny Kirkland.

Maybe we will get to hear the real Branford in ten years or so ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have several Branford CDs, including the new one. "Eternal" is the third release under his name on Marsalis Music (I still crack up at the thought that the one Marsalis who *didn't* sign to Marsalis music was Wynton). The first two were "Music of Our Fathers" and "Romaire Bearden Revisited." Both were excellent recordings, in my opinion. Branford has definitely got chops. "Eternal" is quite good too, although the slow tempo makes it very sleepy. Joey Calderazzo put a solo album out on Marsalis earlier this year, and if you enjoy him with Branford, it's well worth picking up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...