A Man of Many Talents
Branford Marsalis, an award-winning saxophonist, composer, and jazz educator, has a broad repertoire that includes the music of Debussy, Stravinsky, and Duke Ellington. On July 12, 2023, Marsalis showcased his vast array of influences in a captivating concert titled “An Evening with Branford Marsalis” at the Barbican Hall as part of the 2023 EFG London Jazz Festival Summer Series. The quartet dedicated their performance to the late John Cumming, founder of the London Jazz Festival.
Accompanying Marsalis on stage were drummer Justin Faulkner, pianist Joey Calderazzo, and double bassist Eric Revis. Their eclectic performance included a variety of compositions, from high-energy tunes to laid-back blues numbers.
Starting with a Bang
The ensemble opened the concert with Calderazzo’s lively piece “The Mighty Sword,” taken from their 2012 recording “Four MFs Playing Tunes.” The energetic performance vividly evoked imagery of a dirt biker descending a rocky slope at breakneck speed.
Paying Tribute to Keith Jarrett
In their rendition of Keith Jarrett’s “Long as you are living yours” (from the 1974 “Belonging” album), the quartet showcased their ability to capture the song’s bluesy essence, featuring heartfelt solos from both Marsalis and Calderazzo. Over the years, Marsalis has maintained a deep appreciation for Jarrett’s artistry, skillfully incorporating his influence into his own music.
An Emotional Journey
The quartet’s performances of Jarrett’s lesser-known composition “Rose Petals” (from Marsalis’s 1990 album “Crazy People Music”) and “A Thousand Autumns” (from the 1996 piano-free album “The Dark Keys”) captured the audience with their emotional intensity, highlighting the group’s exquisite musicianship.
Reviving a Classic
Breathing new life into the 1928 classic “There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth the Salt of My Tears,” the quartet showcased Marsalis’s ability to evoke the spirit of legendary musicians like Frankie Trumbauer.
A Stellar Encore
The concert concluded with spirited performances of Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” Vocalist Cleveland Watkiss joined the stage for the latter number, displaying his scat singing talents while Julian Joseph took over the piano from Calderazzo, providing a fitting end to a delightful July evening in the City of London.