Branford Marsalis: Elysium




Branford Marsalis (tenor sax)


Contemporary Jazz (Columbia CK 63850)

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Branford Marsalis (tenor sax), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums), Eric Revis (bass).

Recorded: New York, December 1999


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Seven notes from Branford Marsalis’s tenor sax – seven notes – announce “Elysium,” the seventh of which is joined by the piano, bass and drum. Then a squeal – and a swirl of chaos from all four musicians. This is just the beginning. Marsalis’s 16-minute composition is a tour de force of contemporary jazz – not smooth jazz, mind you; the album title is a stick in the eye to those who try to categorize. Marsalis then launches into a wild solo that has him playing against the super-fast 5/4 time put down by the rhythm section. The bridge – or is it the chorus? – induces whiplash with its speed-up-then-abruptly-slow-down mechanism. Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is phenomenal throughout this mind-bending journey. One has to wonder how many takes it took the quartet to get this complex tune right. It couldn’t have been one. Could it?

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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