Branford Marsalis: Elysium
Branford Marsalis (tenor sax)
Contemporary Jazz (Columbia CK 63850)
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