Release Date: Aug 7, 2012
Record label: Marsalis Music
It's often observed that this fine saxophonist's studio recordings rarely catch his live-show fire. There's a relaxation about this one, however (Branford Marsalis suggested the title to his manager as a joke, but it reflects the unselfconscious mood) that comes very close. Original drum star Jeff "Tain" Watts has been replaced by the lighter-stepping Justin Faulkner, but the other MFs – pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis – supply Marsalis the same rocket-fuel they have since the late 1990s.
There was no doubt that when Jeff "Tain" Watts left the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 2009, they would take some time to regroup. They recruited then 18-year-old drummer Justin Faulkner, confusing many fans. But Marsalis knew what he was doing. Faulkner makes his BMQ debut on the no-nonsense Four MFs Playin' Tunes.
Now, pardon my French, but there’s actually something really amusing about the word “motherfucker”. It gives us more than cheeky teenage kicks. It tends to hit the mark regardless of its grammatical context. The more aggressive end of the hip-hop spectrum uses it as a grunted adjective. When ….
Branford Marsalis Quartet Contrarianism suits the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, though probably not as much as he likes to think. The title of his new album, “Four ___ Playin’ Tunes,” hurls a rejoinder to the rarefactions he sees elsewhere in jazz. He’s overstating the point, but maybe that’s the motivation he needed. Anyway, the album is a knockout: hard nosed and hyperacute, tradition minded but modern, defined by the high-wire grace of his working band.