Saturday, June 26, 2010

Branford Marsalis - Heard You Twice the First Time

Branford Marsalis plays the blues on this interesting if erratic CD. Among his many guests are B.B. King (although surprisingly, there is no interaction between Marsalis and King), John Lee Hooker, Russell Malone, Linda Hopkins (who comes across very well), Joe Louis Walker and brothers Wynton  and Delfeayo Marsalis. Ranging from hints of field hollers and New Orleans to country blues, a vignette ("Brother Trying to Catch a Cab (On the East Side) Blues") and a few more conventional burnouts, this is an intriguing set that is worth picking up. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

In the midst of his ever-expanding celebrity, Branford Marsalis has waxed his new Columbia album, I HEARD YOU TWICE THE FIRST TIME.  It is his long-awaited blues project, featuring heartfelt contributions from B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Linda Hopkins, and others.  On those stellar collaborations, as on all the album's tracks, Branford examines this most fundamental (and potent) of musical languages, uncovering narrative tales borne from a rich and immediate tradition.

"What makes the blues tradition so special," he said, upon completing the record, "is that learning the styles of older musicians is a prerequisite.  Then, the elements of each style that are the most attractive to a performer can be used to tell a good story.  That's what blues music is, a real good story."
Thus, when B.B. King wails with the hurt inflected by his mate's infidelity ("B.B.'s Blues"), or John Lee Hooker similarly bares his soul ("Mabel"), or Linda Hopkins underscores the gospel influence of the church on blues music ("The Road You Choose"), we get the hear personalized tales drenched with a stark emotionalism yet rendered universal by the blues.
Branford recognizes that everything he has ever voiced musically springs form that - from the human condition, coupled with the blues dialectic, coupled with the musician's need to express himself.  It's no small responsibility to accept that challenge of expression, much less to meet it artfully. His goal, as he explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Tom Moon, is to reclaim "the folk and peasant aspects of black society that most jazz people disassociate themselves form as quickly as possible."  To that end, he invited some masters to lend a hand. I Heard You Twice the First Time doesn't just spotlight these few blues greats whose credentials virtually define the idiom.  The album features, among others, Branford's long-term group members Kenny Kirkland (piano), Robert Hurst (bass), and Jeff  'Tain' Watts (drums), players who have helped the leader shape his musical point of view.  (Hurst emerges as a bluesman in his own right with his cheeky composition, "Brother Trying to Catch a Cab [On the East Side] Blues.") Add to the mix the production input of younger brother Delfeayo Marsalis (who supervised the recording at seven different studios in New York, New Orleans and the West Coast, and in one elementary school), and you have an album that is truly a family (of jazz) affair. - from Branford's website

Artist: Branford Marsalis
Album: I Heard You Twice the First Time
Year: 1992
Label: Columbia
Total time: 69:48

1.  Brother Trying to Catch a Cab (on the Eastside) Blues (Robert Hurst) 9:06
2.  B.B.'s Blues (B.B. King/Branford Marsalis) 10:10
3.  Rib Tip Johnson (Branford Marsalis) 9:21
4.  Mabel (John Lee Hooker) 6:47
5.  Sidney in Da House (Branford Marsalis) 6:32
6.  Berta, Berta (Traditional) 5:27
7.  Stretto from the Ghetto (Jeff Watts) 7:16
8.  Dance of the Hei Gui (Branford Marsalis) 5:33
9.  The Road You Choose (Branford Marsalis/Joe Louis Walker) 6:23
10.  Simi Valley Blues (Branford Marsalis/Robert Hurst/Jeff Watts) 3:09

Branford Marsalis (Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone and Vocals)
Robert Hurst (Double Bass) - 1,2,4,5,7-10
Jeff "Tain" Watts (Drums) - 1,2,4,5,7,8,10
Kenny Kirkland (Piano) - 1,4,7-9
B.B. King (Guitar and Vocals) - 2
Russel Malone (Guitar) - 3
Reginald Veal (Double Bass) - 3
Herlin Riley (Drums) - 3
John Lee Hooker (Guitar and Vocals) - 4
Wessel Anderson (Alto Saxophone) - 5
Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet) - 5
David Sagher (Trombone) - 5
Linda Hopkins (Vocals) - 9
Joe Louis Walker (Guitar) - 9
Earl Gardner (Trumpet) - 9
Delfayo Marsalis (Trombone) - 9
T-Blade (Rhythm Guitar) - 9
Bernard Purdie (Drums) - 9



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