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Contemporary Jazz by Branford Marsalis

Of the two Brothers Marsalis, the least pretentious one has always been Branford. I mean, after gigs with Sting and that stint on the Tonight Show, you get the idea that Branford is less interested in pontificating the jazz gospel and more comfortable just making music of whatever variety it may be. His albums only further the point, especially the hip-hop grooves of his Buckshot LeFonque projects. Still, it’s his reluctance to plant his feet firmly in any one camp that makes it hard for some of his critics to take him too seriously.

Fortunately, the contemporary jazz that Marsalis and crew lay down here is not of the commercial variety and it’s also not just another hard bop retread. While the focus is still on the type of busy interaction and odd time signatures that define "In the Crease," the palette becomes broader as the disc progresses. There’s free tonality with "Elysium," another drum spot for Jeff "Tain" Watts in "Tain Mutiny" and some holy roller testifying on "Countronious Rex." A hidden track at the end of the disc even finds Marsalis playing Ben Webster to Joey Calderazzo’s Oscar Peterson. As unbridled and free flowing as the best jazz must always be, Branford has arrived at a maturity level that has only been alluded to in past efforts.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Branford Marsalis
  • CD Title: Contemporary Jazz
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Record Label: Columbia
  • Musicians: Branford Marsalis (saxophones), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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