CD Choice: Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo – Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music)

Publication: Church of England Newspaper
Author: Derek Walker
Date: June 24, 2011

Metamorphosis, the latest release by Branford Marsalis’s quartet, featured tunes written by each of the players, and for me the best were penned by pianist Joey Calderazzo. They brought a breezy, timeless approach to jazz that made listening a pleasure.

This set, made only with bandleader and saxophonist Marsalis, is free of the tight constraints of the rhythm section, and so exudes a fluid ease that suits these largely lyrical pieces.

While the two were already a well-lubricated engine, a short set at the Newport Jazz Festival inspired them to spend a few days capturing this dynamic in the studio.

The ‘Songs of Mirth’ frame the collection. “One Way” could have been recorded at any time of the last half-century, and the perky “Bri’s Dance” is so jovial that it almost trips over itself.

In between, the ‘Songs of Melancholy’ show the two players responding to each other lightly and intuitively, playing the space like another instrument and highlighting nuances of tone. Marsalis’s

“The Bard Lachrymose,” a stately and precise piece, particularly delights in subtle pauses and hung notes, while Calderazzo’s “La Valse Kendall” and “Hope” are typically relaxed and flowing.

This delightful and intimate collaboration also includes a Wayne Shorter tune and a snatch of Brahms.

Submitted by Bobby on June 27th, 2011 — 03:48pm