Following the 2004 Grammyr-nominated Eternal, and drawing upon a world of inspirations including John Coltrane, a 17th Century English composer, an American Indian warrior and a Japanese horror film, Braggtown is the Branford Marsalis Quartet's most comprehensive and compelling recording to date. Marsalis selected the strongest new songs from his current repertoire, with an emphasis on what he describes as "that kind of high-energy music we've been playing in live performance. A jazz recording in no uncertain terms, Braggtown finds four exceptional musicians Branford Marsalis (tenor and soprano saxophones), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass) and Jeff Tain Watts (drums) at the top of their collective game.
Tenor/soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis is a master of the "burnout"--an intense but deliberate and focused style of jazz that has its roots in John Coltrane. Unlike many Trane-ologists, however, Marsalis uses Trane's concepts instead of the master's notes. On Braggtown
, named for a neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina, Marsalis delivers a virtual clinic on how to play 21st-century jazz, with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, pianist Joey Calderazzo, and bassist Eric Revis. The pieces range from the uptempo "Jack Baker" and "Blakzilla"--Watts's polyrhythmic props to Godzilla--to the reverent rendition of the 17th-century composer Henry Purcells "O Solitude," and Revis's intense, long-form composition, "Black Elk Speaks," complete with his impassioned, Mingusian bass solo, with references to Star Trek: The Next Generation
. On all of the tracks Marsalis's tone is impossibly brilliant and burnished, and for my money, this recording is the worthy successor to his 1990 masterpiece, Crazy People Music
. --Eugene Holley Jr.