Thursday, November 29, 2012

Branford Marsalis - Bloomington


Delfeayo Marsalis said, " Branford Marsalis is the most creative and imaginative person playing music today." I strongly agree to what he said, in other word, Branford is the best saxman playing the saxophone today (I wonder how many people agree with that?). Maybe you will agree with that statement after hearing to this trio album. Hmm, how do I start? Ok, the musicians.. In this trio, we have Robert Hurst playing the bass and Jeff Watts playing drums. These 2 guys are no ordinary musicians who just only play simple jazz standards or simply just come together for some lame jamming session. Robert Hurst, is by far the best bassist I have ever heard. Many people have given a lot of acclaim to the new bassist, Eric Revis (in Branford's band) whom is also a great bassist, but I still find something is missing in Eric's bass playing, that Robert has. Robert got a deep sounding bass line filling with complex harmonic, rhythmic structures and humor, at times he would do some tension thingy like the late Jimmy Garrison, sustaining low notes, banging his bass line that would give listeners a feel of susdiminish sensibility (I don't know how to explain the sound!). And most important of all, he keeps the groove in a solid condition. Not to mention he can swing at any odd-meter vamp with great ease. A bassist with deep running power of his beat provides a very strong foundation for the band in case of any earthquakes! And by the way, where's Robert, I haven't heard anything from him since he played in the Ellis Marsalis album <Whistle Stop>- another great album. Jeff Watts is one hell of a drummer, his function as a drummer is far beyond from just timekeeper. I just love his creative thundering herd of drum patterns. He is actually one of the drummers whom have invented many drumming "idioms" to the Jazz community (I don't know how to call that!). No matter what kind of music from post-bop contemporary to Ballads, the fire and polyrhythmic conception is always there. And everybody knows it! Branford is the best sax player of his generation, his playing is so consistent that those melodic and harmonic idea flows like a stream. His command on the instrument is so complete that one almost takes it for granted. The song <Xavier's Lair> is 15:14, you can listen throughout the song, he never run out of ideas, there Tain and Robert juxtaposing different time meters, call-&-responses and man, Branford is improvising on top of that!!! This Trio is not about just playing Jazz, what there are doing here is beyond the word "Jazz". Tell me how many bands can switch on and off in so many different time meter vamps? (5/4, 7/4, 15/8). How many bands can play in 13 bar or 11 bar blues? How many bands can exhibit such a fine dynamic extreme? These are what conventional bands can't do, as they normally play in 4 and 8 bar phrases, 12-bar blues, 4/4 or 3 /4 time meter, and that AABA sequence or that 2-5-1 progressions. This album display some of the most sophisticated, innovative, contemporary Jazz todate. Very few Jazz musicians can play in this setting comfortably. <The Beautyful Ones> is a kind of music that is not very easy to categorize. On the start of the track, Branford kinda evoke Coltrane's lyricism on the soprano and Robert Hurst mimics the bass playing of Jimmy Garrison which have a strong north India flavor. And slowly they increase the musical intensity and there, you have Tain playing his drum in reminiscence to the Tabla playing of the north India classical Tabla players (I guess you can imagine how it would sound!). Branford playing with a Coltrane lyricism throughout the music, with an extreme dynamic sensibility. Then they came to a momentary pause at 12:57, Robert Hurst did a fantastic bass solo beyond the explanation of Jazz improvisation theory, as I have say before, his bass playing here got a strong north India flavor. To me, that solo reminisces Imrat Khan' s Surbahar playing (a bass sitar that got a deep and mellow tone). I think it would be appropriate to use the Indian classical terminology on this track. The things they are doing here got a little sensibility to do with Raga Alap and Raga Jor. As in the Indian Classical music terminology, the depth of imagination and creative musicality of the performer and improviser is revealed in the Alap and Jor. Alap is the first movement of the raga (raga = solo). It is a slow, serene movement acting as an invocation and gradually develops the raga (Branford did it with the Coltrane's lyricism, like the way <Alabama> was played). Jor begins with the added element of rhythm which, combining with the weaving of innumerable melodic patterns (and Tain did it!), gradually gains in tempo and leads to the final movement (the trio achieve this too!!). <Citizen Tain> a New Orleans music that is very complex and have many mathematical solo structures by Branford... This album deserve all the credits it got. Nevertheless, like many other great albums by Coltrane, <Love Supreme> or <Live at the Village Vanguard>, Bloomington will not automatically arrive at your door step inviting you for a friendly listen. To understand the essence and true meaning of it, you would require some guts and depth. Listen it with an open-mind and you shall know what real joy is. - by Bandy, Amazon.com

This live set (part of which was included in the performance film The Music Tells You) features Branford Marsalis and his longtime trio (bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts) really stretching out on six pieces. Most of the playing is unfortunately very long-winded and rather dull. Marsalis seems content to play the part of a chameleon, doing his impressions of late-period Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and (when he switches to soprano) Ornette Coleman. Also, the music lacks variety and Marsalis is off-mic part of the time. Although the final two selections give this set a much needed dose of humor, it is too little too late. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Branford Marsalis
Album: Bloomington
Year: 1991
Label: Columbia (1993)
Runtime: 67:00

Tracks:
1.  Xavier's Lair (Branford Marsalis) 15:12
2.  Everything Happens To Me (Tom Adair/Matt Denis) 7:53
3.  The Beautyful Ones (Branford Marsalis) 19:02
4.  Citizen Train (Branford Marsalis) 16:18
5.  Friday the 13th (Thelonious Monk) 11:12
6.  Roused About (Robert Hurst) 7:21

Personnel:
Branford Marsalis (Saxophones)
Robert Hurst (Double Bass)
Jeff "Tain" Watts (Drums)

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