Branford, the oldest and most exploratory of the Marsalis brothers, launches his new label with his most ambitious recording to date. He isn’t just invoking the giants of modern tenor sax, he’s playing their most demanding extended compositions–Sonny Rollins‘s “Freedom Suite” and John Coltrane‘s “A Love Supreme.” Marsalis rises to the challenge handily. “Freedom Suite” is all rhythmic nuance and kinetic blues, sly wit, and subtle swing, played with just bass and drums, as was the original. Marsalis previously recorded “A Love Supreme” in 1994 on Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, but the results are far superior here, as he’s grown into the emotional dimensions of Coltrane’s suite.
The extended solo on “Resolution,” and the even more intense exploration of “Pursuance,” mark high points among Marsalis’ recordings. This is just as much an achievement for his remarkable band, with solid support from pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis, and, above all, the consistently fresh and sometimes explosive drumming of Jeff “Tain” Watts. Ornette Coleman‘s “Giggin'” and John Lewis‘s “Concorde” bookend the major works. —Stuart Broomer | Amazon
At your leisure, check out this bop jazz gem “FOOTSTEPS OF OUR FATHERS” by Branford Marsalis Quartet