Brampton Global Jazz & Blues Festival – Art of Jazz Celebration
Branford Marsalis Quartet, Rose Theatre, Brampton, On. August 11, 2012
Report by Paul J. Youngman – August 2012
The Branford Marsalis Quartet brought it all to Brampton; the quartet played an extended set that was an exciting performance of musical virtuosity. The pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist, Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner joined saxophonist Branford Marsalis as the group played a magically brilliant set to the delight of a good sized audience.
For the most part Marsalis played soprano saxophone. He was the ultimate in jazz cool, composed, sophisticated, confident and self assured. In a first hand display of Marsalis cool he announced to the audience that he had finally figured out why his saxophone had been giving him resistance all night, he had been changing the reed repeatedly when the problem was the mouthpiece, he had chosen the wrong one. Mouthpiece problems aside, Marsalis is one of the most lyrical players on the scene, smooth and pleasant toned. His improvised playing flows with unrestrained brilliance, intriguing ideas are produced in a continuous blaze of glory.
The first song the quartet played was a scorcher, Calderazzo played with a stride piano style, feet flying to the tempo and body thumping on the piano stool. The bass is steady and constantly pushing the rhythm giving the drummer plenty of room. Faulkner the drummer takes it all and with driving intensity pushes the song to the limit. A tall lanky drummer who projects an image of an individual towering over the drum set. His arms and legs appear to be flailing at the kit, yet he is very much in control, precise, dynamic and intense. On an up-tempo tune his sense of time knows no boundaries, a rolling thunder, dropping bombs as he pleases, although never on the count of one. On the slower blues and ballads he keeps the beat, lays back and in the most unlikely locations adds an intense roll on the snare that builds for about a bar and gently subsides into a swinging rhythm on cymbal.
There were so many high lights to this concert – especially sweet was the bluesy tune by Kenny Kirkland “Steepian Faith”. Also the melodic ballad “Maestra” by Eric Revis, with notes running into each other fluidly and blending with elegance as all members of the quartet played in support of this beautiful tune. “In The Crease”, quite possibly the most exciting song of the concert. Marsalis on tenor sax and blowing deep growling melodic lines while Faulkner drums as a whirling dervish of intensity and Calderazzo tests the piano with blistering runs and pounding chords while Revis is solid and dependable holding it all together with rhythmic splendor. Or “Treat It Gently” with Marsalis on soprano and sounding very much like a clarinet on this song dedicated to Sidney Bechet.
The final song of the evening, a song dedicated to festival organizer Bonnie Lester “Teo”. A bossa nova feel to open the song and a bridge to a moderate tempo, a marching blues, where the tune grooved through a tenor solo giving way to some intense drumming by Faulkner. The band came back for an encore song and continued to play heart and soul giving the audience a grand good night. An still one more festival day to go, with artist in residence Branford Marsalis leading the Art of Jazz Orchestra for an afternoon concert in the square.
Photographs by Robert Saxe