The Branford Marsalis Quartet, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

by Sylvannia Garutch

The Branford Marsalis Quartet saw its formation in 1986, it remains Marsalis’ primary mode of expression.  The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, was recorded in Melbourne, Australia during an international tour in the Spring of 2018.  The album contains seven prophetic original and classic compositions.  A mix of creatively complex moods that range from introspectively moving to daring, with a complexity of sound most associated with the Quartet.   The album features: Branford Marsalis: saxophone; Joey Calderazzo: piano; Eric Revis: bass and Justin Faulkner: drums.

“Snake Hip Waltz” has a melody befitting the title’s name as it snakes through the harmony. The quartet sounds wonderful, as usual, and the chemistry is obvious. Faulkner’s drumming is buoyant and percolates the time under the ensemble. Marsalis and Calderazzo play the melody together. The sound certainly has elements of old school jazz, but with the feel of modern jazz. Marsalis’ solo starts strong, his soprano saxophone playing is exciting and interacts, especially with Faulkner. The quartet certainly has a language that is identifiable, here the sum is greater than the parts, but all the parts are identifiable and so is the sum. Calderazzo sounds great, he seems to have a new spark in his playing and its very focused and musical. The way the ensemble plays with the waltz time is engaging.

“The Windup” is the album closer. The Keith Jarrett composition first released on his Belonging album is given a new treatment. The quartet puts their own unique stamp on the music, but one can still hear the spirit of the classical and jazz connection in the crosscurrents. The dynamics are certainly a big part of this track, from Calderazzo’s unaccompanied beginning of his solo to the way the quartet plays the melody. This is a fitting closer, the up-tempo swing does feel good and the players all seem to be having fun and enjoying themselves. Marsalis takes a more esoteric approach to his solo, one can hear elements of Eric Dolphy creeping into his playing. By mid-way through the solo though, it is back to business as usual and the quartet is swinging right along. A boundless band that will be known for their own unique language, even when doing other artists tunes like Jarrett’s “The Windup.”

Marsalis has a deep discography with plenty of moving moments to choose from, especially from his long running quartet.  The unification of each players unique contribution to The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul steps forward with a stirring voice in the fabric of modern jazz.

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