"Upward Spiral" by Branford Marsalis Quartet on iTunes

13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The master saxophonist meets his vocal foil in this fruitful musical dialogue. The song selection shows that these two are at their best when they’re taking jazz to realms where it wouldn’t otherwise travel. An imaginative interpretation of Chris Whitley’s “From One Island to Another” moves from pensive to stormy, while Elling handles the bossa nova classic “Só Tinha de Ser Com Você” with such effortlessly playful poise, you’d assume Portugese was his native tongue. For all their virtuosity, the duo’s minimalistic takes on “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “Blue Velvet” affirm the disarming power of the understatement.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The master saxophonist meets his vocal foil in this fruitful musical dialogue. The song selection shows that these two are at their best when they’re taking jazz to realms where it wouldn’t otherwise travel. An imaginative interpretation of Chris Whitley’s “From One Island to Another” moves from pensive to stormy, while Elling handles the bossa nova classic “Só Tinha de Ser Com Você” with such effortlessly playful poise, you’d assume Portugese was his native tongue. For all their virtuosity, the duo’s minimalistic takes on “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “Blue Velvet” affirm the disarming power of the understatement.

Mastered for iTunes
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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

11 Ratings

Nice blend of talents and styles

BobRum,

This will appeal to both Kurt Elling fans and Branford Marsalis fans. Some of the longer compositions give both artists real room to breathe and showcase their individual talents: Practical Arrangement, From One Island to Another, Long As You’re Living, and others. I am looking forward to listening to this a few more times, and I can’t wait to seem them perform together in September at MJF.

BMQ with Kurt Elling - an assured classic!

Basho7,

That Branford has a keen ear has never been a question, and the addition of Kurt Elling was a masterstroke. Like each of the members of the quartet, Elling brings his own qualities to bear, yet blends seamlessly with the ensemble. Practical Arrangement, by Sting, was already a touching composition, in Branford's it is painfully exquisite - each listen takes an emotional toll, and is easily the finest track in this collection. I'm A Fool To Want You, a duet with Marsalis and Elling is a close runner-up.
There's so much to discover in this recording, make an appointment for yourself to listen in your easy chair and best headphones. You won't regret it.

About Branford Marsalis Quartet

The oldest of the four musical Marsalis brothers, Branford Marsalis has had an impressive career. After studying at Southern University and Berklee, Branford toured Europe with the Art Blakey big band in the summer of 1980 (playing baritone), played three months with Clark Terry, and then spent five months playing alto with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1981). He mostly played tenor and soprano while with Wynton Marsalis' influential group (1982-1985), at first sounding most influenced by Wayne Shorter but leaning more toward John Coltrane at the end. The musical telepathy between the two brothers (who helped to revive the sound of the mid-'60s Miles Davis Quintet) was sometimes astounding. Branford toured with Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. II. in 1983 and recorded with Miles Davis (1984's Decoy). In 1985, when he left Wynton to join Sting's pop/rock group, it caused a major (if temporary) rift with his brother that made headlines. Marsalis enjoyed playing with Sting but did not let the association cause him to forget his musical priorities. By 1986, he was leading his own group which eventually consisted of pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Bob Hurst, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts; sometimes the band was a piano-less trio that really allowed Marsalis to stretch out. After a couple of film appearances (in School Daze and Throw Mama from the Train), Branford Marsalis became even more of a celebrity when he joined Jay Leno's Tonight Show as the musical director in 1992. However, being cast in the role of Leno's sidekick rubbed against Marsalis' temperament and after two years he had had enough. Branford Marsalis, who attempted to mix together hip-hop and jazz in his erratic Buckshot LeFonque project, has recorded steadily for Columbia ever since 1983 (including a classical set). In 2002, having left Columbia, Marsalis formed his own label Marsalis Music. Intended as a true independent label focused on supporting the development of musicians, Marsalis Music has released albums by such diverse artists as guitarist/vocalist Doug Wamble, pianist/vocalist Harry Connick, Jr., saxophonist Miguel Zenón, and others. Marsalis himself also kept busy releasing a handful of albums on the label including Footsteps of Our Fathers, which featured his take on the classic John Coltrane composition "A Love Supreme" in 2002, Romare Bearden Revealed in 2003, Eternal in 2004, Braggtown in 2006, and Metamorphosen in 2009. In 2011, Marsalis delivered the duo album Songs of Mirth and Melancholy featuring pianist Joey Calderazzo. In the spring of 2012, the Marsalis quartet — Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and the young drummer Jason Faulkner — released Four MF's Playin Tunes. Marsalis also played a solo saxophone concert at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral in October of that year. Two years and three weeks later, it was released as In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral by Okeh. In 2016, Marsalis delivered the quartet album Upward Spiral, featuring vocalist Kurt Elling.

  • ORIGIN
    Breaux Bridge, LA
  • BORN
    Aug 26, 1960

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