It seems ironic that this fiercely independent Marsalis (maybe they all are) starts his own label and puts out a recording differential to others. Well, it’s not just some others, it is these others with a couple of surprises: Sonny Rollins (no), John Coltrane (no), Ornette Coleman (a little), and John Lewis (surprise!!).
The repertory might have some years on it, but the playing does not suffer at all and provides a phenomenal vehicle for Marsalis’s indomitable personality. While staying faithfully to the originals, especially Rollins’s Freedom Suite and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme ("Acknowledgement" and "Pursuance" movements), Marsalis manages to give the listener déjà vu chills at times, yet puts his personal sound on the music. This tightrope walking could go badly very easily, but Branford pulls it off with a style that eclipses his previously recorded CDs.
Marsalis benefits from a solid - make that incendiary - rhythm section featuring pianist Joey Calderazzo, always a burner; bassist Eric Revis, who is unwavering in his control of the time; and Jeff "Tain" Watts, the most propulsive drummer since Tony Williams. Tain makes your pulse race as he steamrolls through the music with power and sensitivity. The contributions of all the players make this music fresh not nostalgic. This is a winner for Branford on his fledgling label.