Wednesday, July 21, 2004


A couple nights ago i put in Branford Marsalis' Requiem.  It had been a while since i listened to any Branford and i remembered Requiem being a refeshingly different recording.  The first couple tunes are pretty good.  Some really interesting, gypsy sounding soprano playing one of them.  The third tune I remember seeing performed on a tv program with his quartet(Joey Calderazzo in place of Kenny Kirkland) and he talked about how the piece was influenced by Keith Jarrett's approach to playing freely with tempo, emulating in some ways the fluidity of classical.  I thought this was vaguely interesting at the time, but now as I return to it I find it is not so much 'influenced' as completely ripped off(go listen to Jarrett's tune, Vapallia).  Not only is it compositionally and concepeptually near identical, they try to add in gospel kind of bluesy licks to immitate Keith's kind of '70s playing.  It's an embarassment, especially considering Kirklands already well developed sense of earthy, Ionian-based playing that he sneaks into many recordings.  It saddens me to see him overreach in such a hopeless way when he had all he needed to make the music his own.  The next tune was an obnoxiously loud funk groove(no, Tain, no!) with branford tastlessly blowing his nuts off.  I took off the cd.
    So last night I figured I'd give ol' Branford a second chance and put on Crazy People Music.  This is some of Branford's most inspired playing, as far as i'm concerned.  This is probably the band high point of their career with Kenny.  Still, I couldn't get through it without a certain level of disapointment.  Branford's playing get's monotonous to me fairly quickly.  The one ballad they play only takes off when Branford takes his horn out of his mouth and Kirkland delivers a little lesson in musicality.  The last tune is a nice straight swinger that stays on a minor the whole time with a nice happy melody.  You can practically hear a big voice talking over the little groove, 'You've been a really terriffic audience.  We had so much fun tonight and I hope...'  Then the unthinkable occurs.  That's right, another shoot-me-in-face-it's-so-goddam-tastless funk groove from Tain with branford actually playing cheesy licks.  I took off the cd.  


Blogger Danny Meyer said...

I hear ya...Branford just doesn't do a whole lot for me anymore. Shame.

5:38 AM  

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