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VINE VOICEon March 22, 2009
Listening to the Branford Marsalis Quartet's Metamorphosen is an experience that leaves me stunned by the beauty and complexity of both their composition and performance skills. This is a wonderful example of jazz that is musically tight yet expressive and improvisational. The interplay of the four musicians is spectacular with first one and then another or two at a time seamlessly taking the lead or all four playing in perfect synchronization. This is a virtuoso performance by an experienced quartet with each performer clearly a star in his own right.

Compositionally as well this is a collaborative effort with Branford Marsalis himself contributing only the single composition Jaberwocky, which features him on alto sax. Instead this recording features two or three compositions from each of the other members plus Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning for a total of nine tracks. The shortest track (3:17) is bassist Revis' composition and solo performance "And Then, He Was Gone" in which the elegance of Revis' playing belies the traditional rhythm and beat role of the bass.

The other tracks range from 5 to 10 minutes in length allowing the group to fully develop a theme, adding layers and exploring as the pieces progress. The tracks range from the upbeat and energetic such as Jitney Man, Jaberwocky and Rhythm-a-ning to the beautiful and melancholic such as The Blossom of Parting, The Last Goodbye, (and) And Then He was Gone. Metamorphosen concludes with drummer Watts' wonderful composition Samo with 10 minutes of mid tempo jazz which simply allows the listener to bask in the glow of a wonderful performance featuring the quartet playing in perfectly synchronized collaboration.

Remarkably you can still listen to the whole album (As of November 21, 2009)
at marsalismusicdotcom/metamorphosen/
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on March 27, 2009
Branford's Quartet has been together for 10 plus years - which is nearly unheard of in jazz - but it shows in the recordings. "Eternal" will always be one of my favorites - and the last one, "Braggtown" was brutally intense and unforgiving. This time out we get a compromise or a "Metamorphonsen" of the last two studio recordings of this virtuosically stellar band. Not all the material is grade "A" but the musicianship is second to none. Like his brother Wynton, Branford pulls ribbons of sound, slashing out of his saxophone - to the sheer delight of all that listen.

Drummer Watts always seems to write the best material for the quartet - so be sure to add those two numbers to your Itunes 'frequently played' list.

Of course nothing compares to the live renditions of such material and such amazing musicians. Fortunately, this recording is immaculate and each nuance and concept is carried out thoughtfully...

Another winner - and something we've certainly come to expect from Branford these days...

~T
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on January 1, 2010
I posted this mainly to offset the goofball who posted a 1-star review. This is a great album - I would give it at least a 4 and probably a 5 normally.
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on July 10, 2009
Another great release from the quartet...they still sound fresh and exciting and the album is full of great compositions. There are a couple of angular medlodic tunes that don't do much for me, except "A Blossom of Parting". This tune builds and builds with tension until it finally peaks and is resolved by a wonderful piano ending. This gives the tune the sigh of relief it needed after all the built up tension - I love it when tunes end the way this one does - (i.e. Exit Music (for a film) performed by Brad Mehldau's Trio at the Village Vanguard Vol. 3). The rest of the tunes are full of spontaneity and excitement that keep the listener on edge.
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on June 15, 2009
A much more elaborate record compared to Braggtown.

You feel the intensity of Jack Baker and quitness and exoticism of Eternal listening to Metamorphosen. It is a very well balanced record and perhaps the band's most mature record yet.
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on June 25, 2009
The Branford Marsalis Quartet has been leading way in contemporary jazz for many years, and the group has benefited from that time together. They are together, rock-solid, on this recording, and doing many new things, intricate rhythms, changes, and unexpected things. This is not for the casual listener or "smooth jazz" fan, but if you want to engage your brain and be taken to new places, this is a very good album, from a very good small group of musicians, saying very interesting things.
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on April 5, 2009
After saying so often that jazz may be dead, a recording that shows that this music is alive comes along. The opening tune is complex for the brain, and wide open for the rest of the body to react to. The opening reminds me of the opening of "A" train, in spirit, only with compositional ideas that didn't exist when Billy Strayhorn penned that classic. The development section (the way this quartet develops thematic idea has more in common with Beethoven than Chet Baker, so I see many of the tunes they play is a simplified 3 part Sonata form) is invigorating. The second tune is jazz in instrumentation, but could easily be sung as leider (or an aria) by a vocal tenor. It is that beautiful. "Jabberwocky" is just cool. Abe Vigoda (why this title?, without transcription, I'm guessing that the 12 tone row used to compose this atonal beauty has A-B-E in it somewhere,but I could be way off, on all of that speculation). Abe Vigoda is a beautiful tune from another world. Monk and a Monkish "Sphere, bring thye disc back to earth. The disc closes out with "Samo". The polyrhytmic tune seems to have a split aural focal point that leaves me thinking that I will hear it from a different part of my brain each time I hear it. This tune, is spiritual in the way my favorite record First Meditations, by Trane has been on repeated listening. Metamorphosen is a fabulous record of a brilliant quartet.
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on November 18, 2009
I like everything I have heard from Branford Marsalis in the past but can't get anything out of this current release. As I listened, not for the first time, the music started to remind me of that used by a snake charmer. I realize these are great musicians but this release is beyond me.
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