Powerful self expression from Marsalis
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
The Branford Marsalis Quartet entertained a nearly full house at Jorgensen on Thursday night, performing fast rhythms with high energy and filling the evening with humor.
American saxophonist, composer and bandleader Branford Marsalis – for whom the band is named after – is primarily known for his work in jazz and has frequently performed as a soloist. Marsalis was born in Louisiana and began playing alto and baritone saxophone in Europe during 1980 while attending Berklee College Of Music. He joined his brother Wynton in the group Jazz Messengers and played with musicians like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Creating his quartet in 1986, Marsalis has released over a dozen albums of his music and has gained well renowned reputation throughout the world.
Pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis joined Marsalis on stage to greet the audience at the beginning of the performance. Marsalis joked around about drummer Justin Faulkner taking his time in front of the mirror backstage and asked the audience to supply a large round of applause for him when he entered the stage. Though the band played about half a minute of the song without him, they provided the crowd with a sense of humor that they kept all night. The first song also gave the crowd a taste of the consistency of energy and eccentrics the group possesses. The band played with so much vigor that the sheet music on top of the grand piano would shake and Calderazzo would have to push it back to keep it from falling off. All four men showed the strain of the music in their movements as well, jerking about and tapping their feet to the music they played.
The next song began much slower than the first with a piano introduction. With bass accompaniment and the easy piano, Marsalis performed smooth clarinet solos. Between each solo, he’d walk to the back of the stage, behind his band, to let the other musicians have their shot at solos as well as the spotlight. With a pick up of tempo, bassist Revis performed a fast solo before the song ended with a long clarinet note. Marsalis picked up his saxophone for the following song, beginning it with a solo that integrated the piano. This song held small drum solos, including the use of fast bass beats without a double bass pedal.
“I remember playing when I was a young pup in my 20s and all the young people would say, ‘you guys killed it’ but the old guys told us we sucked,” Marsalis said. He explained how he asked the older men what he should do differently, and they told him that he needed to play like an old man. Again, his band members joked with him, telling him how he didn’t have to “imitate” an old man. Titled “Our Love is Here to Stay,” the song was slow paced and soulful.
“I was mind blown by the second to last song,” said Christina Fililippakos 2nd semester physiology and neurobiology major. “The way he expressed himself through the way he played the saxophone was amazing- it seemed like a trance.”
Fililippakos is speaking of the next song the band played, in which Revis used a bow and Faulkner provided rattling drum noises to set an unusual background for a calm clarinet and piano duo. Though Marsalis dropped his reed, he told his band to keep playing while he fixed it. The band received a standing ovation and gave an encore performance of the song “Tiger Ray,” an upbeat swing song rumored to have been composed by French artists in the 1970s.